Volcanic eruption causes significant damage in Tonga; creates Tsunami waves

A massive underwater volcanic eruption occurred in the Pacific Island nation of Tonga on January 16. Soon after the volcanic eruption, the situation triggered tsunami waves around the Pacific and caused “significant damage” to the island nation’s capital, CNN reported.

Following the threat, Tsunami advisories issued for Japan and Hawaii, Alaska, and the U.S. Pacific coast were lifted, the Associated Press reported. A video of the volcanic eruption under the water has been recorded and published by international media.

According to the reports from New Zealand, The Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano, about 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) southeast of Tonga’s Fonuafo’ou island, first erupted on January 14 and a second time on 15 around 5:26 p.m. local time. The eruption was so powerful it was recorded around the world and heard as far away as Alaska, triggering a tsunami that flooded Pacific coastlines from Japan to the United States.

In view to finding the real cause and the sudden eruption, a group has been sent to Tonga to assess the extent of the damage from a huge undersea volcanic eruption. According to reports, When the explod occurred, it sent ash, gas, and steam 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) into the air. As ash fell from the sky, the Nuku’alofa, the Tonga capital witnessed significant damage and phone connections were down.

The eruption caused a severe tsunami on the epicenter- Tongatapu, where the capital is located, with waves flowing onto coastal roads and flooding properties. A 1.2-meter (four-foot) wave hit the shores of the Tongan capital, causing residents to flee to higher ground, abandoning flooded homes and causing some structural damage.

However, the New Zealand president Jacinda Ardern said, there had been no reports of injury or death but a full assessment was not yet possible with communication lines down. Also, the Australian authorities said their initial reports suggested no mass casualties in Tonga, but added there was “significant damage” to roads and bridges in the country.

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Ardern said New Zealand was unable to send a surveillance flight over Tonga because the ash cloud was 63,000 feet high but they hoped to try again on Monday, followed by supply planes and navy ships. Also, one complicating factor to any international aid effort is that Tonga has so far managed to avoid any outbreaks of Covid-19, Ardern added.