5 weeks after a deadly volcanic eruption, Tonga successfully replaced 56 miles of undersea cable to restore the country's internet

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5 weeks after a deadly volcanic eruption, Tonga successfully replaced 56 miles of undersea cable to restore the country's internet
Chinese Navy ships deliver relief supplies to Tonga, including mobile homes, tractors, electricity generators, water pumps, water purifiers, food and medical supplies.Xue Chengqing/Xinhua via Getty Images
  • Tonga restored the main island's internet on Tuesday, 5 weeks after a deadly volcanic eruption.
  • A repair crew replaced 56 miles of undersea cable that was severed during the disaster, AP reported.
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After five weeks without internet, the Kingdom of Tonga has successfully replaced 56 miles of undersea cable severed last month during a volcanic eruption, the Associated Press reports. At least three people died in a tsunami caused by the eruption.

Tonga's submarine fiber-optic cable system connects the main island to Fiji, whose international network connects it to the rest of the world.

The cable was officially reconnected on Tuesday by a repair crew, the state-backed company that owns the cable told the Associated Press. Now, they can focus on repairing the second domestic cable connecting to Tonga's outer islands.

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Until then, Tonga's outer islands are still without internet. However, officials are hoping Elon Musk's 50 Starlink satellites donated to the country last week can help reconnect residents in those areas, Samiuela Fonua of Tonga Cable Ltd. told the outlet.

The nation of Tonga includes 170 islands. Approximately three-fourths of its 98,200 residents live on the main island of Tongatapu, which means an estimated 24,550 people are still without internet.

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5 weeks after a deadly volcanic eruption, Tonga successfully replaced 56 miles of undersea cable to restore the country's internet
A map showing where Tonga is locatedGoogle Maps/Insider

"These terminals will be deployed at strategic locations throughout Tonga to ensure connection and communications are maintained, particularly for the disaster response operation," Paula Ma'u, the CEO of Tonga's Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications (MEIDECC), said in a statement.

SpaceX's Starlink satellites were donated to the island on February 15, according to the Tonga Government Portal. Fonua told the AP that they began testing the Starlink network this week and they they were working "well."

According to Starlink's website, the low-orbit, high-speed satellites are "ideally suited for areas where connectivity has been unreliable or completely unavailable," and have connected rural and remote communities to education, health services, and natural disaster communications support.

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