Tonga clears runway for aid flights
Tonga finished removing a thick coat of ash from an international runway yesterday after days of painstaking effort, clearing the way for desperately needed emergency aid to arrive in the isolated and disaster-stricken nation. UN crisis coordinator Jonathan Veitch told AFP the runway on the Pacific kingdom's main island was again operational. It is "cleared but not in use yet", he said, adding that Tonga could receive much-stalled flights from Australia and New Zealand from today. Three people were killed when the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano exploded on Saturday, triggering tsunami waves that ripped down homes and caused widespread flooding.