The Tonga eruption and tsunami: Emergency in the Pacific

The Warren Centre Humanitarian Engineering Hub is pleased to announce a timely and important webinar for 04 May 2022, on the immediate response to the recent Tonga eruption and tsunami.

On January 15th 2022, the island country of Tonga was seriously impacted by a major undersea volcanic eruption and consequent tsunami and ash plume. Three lives were lost and widespread damage to property and infrastructure was sustained. It was reported that almost 90% of the population was affected. Critically, the undersea communications cable to Tonga was cut and satellite connection was blanketed by the ash plume, restricting internet and communications during a critical time.

The Tongan Prime Minister, Siaosi Sovaleni, described the event as “an unprecedented disaster”.

The Government of Tonga and its Pacific partners acted immediately to support the wellbeing and security of the Tongan people, whilst key engineering needs were identified to be  the investigation of damage to property and infrastructure assets to serve as the basis for rehabilitation, and the reinstatement of communications.

The investigation and report on the damage caused by the eruption and tsunami have been undertaken as a Global Rapid Post Disaster Estimation (GRADE) by the World Bank Group’s Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) – a grouping of international specialists set up specifically for rapid deployment following disasters. The objectives were to provide an estimate of the direct damage and to inform the roadmap for recovery and reconstruction. The investigation covered buildings, infrastructure, social and natural assets.

The Humanitarian Engineering Hub is delighted that we have been able to engage the lead GFDRR authors of the Tongan GRADE report – Rashmin Gunasekera and James Daniell – to present the GRADE assessment methodology and findings. A link to the GRADE report will be provided to webinar registrants.

The technically complex investigation and reinstatement of the undersea cable has been expedited and will be reported on by industry experts, members of the Pacific Telecommunications Council (PTC), John Hibbard and John Turnbull.

This TWC Humanitarian Engineering Hub webinar on the Tonga eruption and tsunami is a unique, not-to-be-missed opportunity to learn from experts on emergency response in the Pacific. 


  • Rashmin Gunasekera – GFDRR
  • James Daniell – GFDRR
  • John Hibbard – Hibbard Consulting/PTC member
  • John Turnbull – SES/PTC member

Watch the Recorded Webinar

Event Details


May 04, 2022
8:00am - 9:30am