An island country isolated from the outside world for at least two weeks

An island country isolated from the outside world for at least two weeks

Aerial and satellite images show a landscape that appears to have been photographed through a filter. A brown membrane of ash covers palm trees, houses and grassy landscapes. The sea is also brown.

Film of the ashes lying on the landscape. © Quelle: Getty Images

Three days after an undersea volcano erupted, information from Tonga is still scattered. Saturday’s violent volcanic eruption – which researchers are now calling the most powerful eruption in the past 30 years – severed the kingdom’s only undersea cable. This means that the Pacific island nation will likely be cut off from the outside world and without an internet for at least two weeks. The news so far comes from reconnaissance flights by Australia and New Zealand. The New Zealand High Commission can also communicate via satellite phone.

A major cleaning process is in progress

The violent eruption of the Hongga Tonga Hong Hapai submerged volcano also caused a tsunami over the weekend that submerged parts of Tonga. Neighboring Pacific nations were also forced to issue tsunami warnings and close beaches. According to New Zealand’s Acting High Commissioner in Tonga, Peter Lund, Tonga’s capital, Nuku’alofa in particular, was badly damaged – by waves as well as by volcanic ash. “There is a major clean-up operation going on, the city is covered with a thick film of volcanic dust,” he said in an interview with local media.Pacific people“.

Lund also reported significant damage on the west coast of the main island of Tongatapu, where some resorts are located. Meanwhile, two deaths have been confirmed, and some reports have already mentioned three deaths. Among the victims was a British woman who was swept into the sea by a tsunami. On the other hand, her partner was able to save himself at the last moment by clinging to a tree.

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Exciting reports from West Coast resorts

The owners of the Hatavu Beach Resort, a holiday complex on the main island 20 kilometers west of the capital Nuku’alofa, reported on Facebook that the beach resort, like all other resorts and homes along the west coast, was severely damaged. . “The village of Kanokopoulo and small parts of Ahau were severely damaged by the tsunami,” the post said. Fortunately, most people were able to make it to safety. Most of them fled to the camps inland.

There may have been many guests at the same Hatavu Beach Resort at the time of the disaster. But the staff managed to save everyone. “But that means they didn’t have time to take anything at all,” the post read. “They had to flee through the bush to the back of the resort to reach safety.”

A distress signal has been detected on Mango Island

Satellite images from the United Nations Satellite Center (UNOSAT) also showed extensive damage. In the village of Nomoka, of the 104 structures analyzed, 41 are believed to have been damaged. Reuters also reported that the United Nations detected a distress signal on Monday. This appears to have been started by the inhabitants of Funui and Mango islands. 36 people live in Mango, while Funui has a population of 69.

The other islands seem to have completely disappeared. Documentary maker Alvaro Cerezo, who also relays experiences on isolated islands through his company Docastaway, reports that the island that formed after a volcanic eruption in 2015 has collapsed back into the ocean as a result of the renewed eruption. Fortunately, Cerezo, who had been a guest for himself previously, kept to himself Several days on the uninhabited island It is located on another island in Polynesia. “For those worried about me following the recent tsunami in Tonga – I am alive and well,” he wrote on Facebook on Tuesday. “She wasn’t really hurt by the wave.”

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New Zealand sends ships to Tonga

Meanwhile, first aid measures have started from New Zealand, but these measures are also made more difficult by the ash fall after the volcanic eruption. “The images show ash falling on the runway at Nuku’alofa Airport,” New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaya Mahuta said. This must first be cleared before New Zealand’s Hercules plane can land with humanitarian assistance.

“In the meantime, two Royal New Zealand Navy ships will leave New Zealand today,” she said on Tuesday. Communication problems with the island nation would have made disaster relief a particular challenge. However, New Zealand decided to send two ships to be on the safe side in order to be able to respond more quickly to the needs of the Tonga government.

Water and other supplies come by ship

HMNZS Wellington carries hydrographic survey and diving teams to identify seafloor changes in shipping channels and harbors, as well as a SH-2G Seasprite helicopter. The second ship, HMNZS Aotearoa, provides a large supply of water and other supplies. “Water is a top priority for Tonga at this point, and HMNZS Aotearoa can transport 250,000 liters and produce 70,000 liters per day through a desalination plant,” New Zealand Defense Minister Benny Henri said. The two ships are said to need three days for a distance of approximately 2,000 kilometers to Tonga.

Tonga is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire and experiences frequent seismic activity. Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are not uncommon. Often made headlines, which is 1,800 meters high, 20 kilometers wide and about 65 kilometers north of Tonga’s capital Nuku’alofa. But the current eruption has been particularly violent: US agency Storm Watch posted photos of the volcanic eruption on Twitter and wrote that the eruption was probably “the most powerful and violent eruption of the 21st century.” The Tonga Geological Survey wrote on Facebook that gas, smoke and ash from the explosion flew up to 20 kilometers into the air.

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