The Biden administration announced it will give $2.5 million in disaster relief funds to the Polynesian island nation of Tonga, which was recently devastated by a massive volcano blast.
The money is provided through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The new funds are on top of $100,000 in relief money announced by the U.S. shortly after the volcano blast rocked the island in mid-January, the Department of State said in a press release.
The volcano’s explosion was one of the loudest events to ever occur on Earth, sending ash into the stratosphere and causing at least one tsunami.
NASA researchers estimated the volcano blast was hundreds of times stronger than the atomic bomb that struck Hiroshima in World War II.
Ash pollution is a serious concern for many in Tonga, which is primarily an agricultural nation. The Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations estimated that around 12,000 households in the agricultural business were affected by the disaster.
The Department of Defense is deploying the USS Sampson naval ship and a Coast Guard boat to assist in rescue efforts in Tonga, while volcano monitoring equipment, communications support and other aid is also being delivered.
“USAID is working to address emergency needs and is providing safe drinking water, hygiene kits, and other assistance to address food security, shelter, agriculture, and livestock needs among the most affected communities,” the department said in the release Wednesday.