19 Oct 2009

Tonga Development Bank working to re-open branch in tsunami hit Niuas

3:05 pm on 19 October 2009

The Tonga Development Bank is working to reopen the only bank on the tsunami-hit island of Niuatoputapu, after its branch was destroyed and its safe swept out to sea.

The bank's deputy finance director, Hasiloni Fungavai, says he went to Niuatoputapu to help restart services a few days after the tsunami.

He says the branch's manager Masi Hoa found the safe on a beach shortly after the tsunami, with about 100-thousand dollars worth of Tongan notes inside.

He says 10 people carried the 3 foot by 2 foot safe to a temporary site, where they tried to clean its lock.

"The first thing I had to ask was to ask the people that give me some strong men. We went down to the sea and carried the safe across. There may be some sand inside the system itself, hose it with fresh water and also some oil, but it seems not to work so we will have to send a new safe from Tongatapu."

The Tonga Development Bank's deputy finance director, Hasiloni Fungavai.

The money that had been in the safe was soaked by the sea water, but has now been dried in the sun and is locked in another safe.