Residents return to tsunami battered Tonga island

Residents of Nomuka, a small island in Tonga north of Tongatapu, have returned home after much of their island was wiped away by the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha-apai eruption and tsunami nearly two months ago.

They were visited by the Prime Minister Hu'akavameiliku Siaosi Sovaleni over the weekend and have asked for an evacuation hall to be built at the highest point of the island, to house them if there is a similar event in the future.

The government said the Ministry of Agriculture is sending tapioca and kumara leaves to Nomuka to help farmers with replanting.

A team of Australian Defence Force personnel and soldiers from Fiji are on HMAS Canberra at Nomuka.

They are there to clear debris from the island.

Meanwhile a disaster risk resilience expert said an important lesson learned from the recent disaster is that Pacific countries need to invest in robust telecommunications networks with built in failsafes.

The volcanic eruption and tsunami was one of the worst natural disasters in the Pacific in recent years.

Last month the World Bank estimated the damage to be over $US90 million, which is equivalent to 18 percent of Tonga's GDP.

But even as Tonga grapples with the enormity of the rebuild amid an outbreak of Covid-19, disaster resilience expert Bapon Fakhruddin said they must think beyond just roads and building infrastructure.

"And how actually we are able to make sure that there is not only just you know submarine cable, there are alternative communications systems in place. So if one is disrupted another could actually provide some backup systems," he said.