NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga — A supply boat loaded with food, clothing, and other supplies left port from Tonga's capital to the nation's outer islands Saturday morning, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints announced Sunday.
According to a release posted by the Church's New Zealand office, church members from congregations on the main island of Tongatapu donated items for families living on the Ha'apai islands, which were heavily damaged by the tsunami that battered the island nation in the wake of a volcanic eruption.
The damage had disabled inter-island communications for a number of days, with Church leaders learning the extent of the circumstances only after a Tongan Navy vessel was able to visit the area.
Members from the nation's 15 Church stakes gathered supplies to send to the people living on the islands. The supplies were loaded onto the Maui, a ship hired to deliver the supplies.
In addition to the supplies, between 30-40 volunteers, including Sitiveni Fehoko, president of the Tonga Outer Islands Mission, boarded the ship to help distribute the supplies to the islands.
The ship departed at 5:00 a.m. local time, expected to reach its first stop on the island of Nomuka by 10:00 a.m. and the remaining islands by the afternoon.