The neighboring island kingdom of Tonga appears to be particularly affected by the tidal waves caused by the eruption of an undersea volcano. Buildings were destroyed, communication severely disrupted. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promises planes and ships.
Wellington – An underwater eruption of the Hongga Tonga volcano has caused tidal waves in the Pacific. The island nation of Tonga was hardest hit by the tsunami. According to reports, entire towns have been inundated, and internet and telephone cuts have made the situation even more difficult. Volcanic ash also delays aid flights. Tidal waves have also been recorded in New Zealand, Japan and Fiji.
Floods in the US state of California have also been attributed to the outbreak. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at a news conference on Sunday that there were no official reports of injuries or deaths. The United States and the United Nations promised assistance.
The Navy prepares to help
Prime Minister Ardern said a reconnaissance flight from New Zealand had been planned. It is likely that this will only happen on Monday due to the dangerous ash cloud. At the same time another plane is ready to transport water, food and medical supplies. The Navy will also prepare to deploy to the site. “We stand ready to support our friends and families in Tonga,” the New Zealand Prime Minister said. The US Meteorological Agency posted satellite images of the eruption on Twitter and wrote that the Hong Tonga eruption appears to be “the most powerful and violent eruption of the 21st century” to date.
Read from our show: Tide waves in the Pacific Ocean
The Geological Survey of Tonga wrote on Facebook that gas, smoke and ash from the volcanic eruption were thrown 20 kilometers into the atmosphere. According to reports, the explosion was heard several thousand kilometers away in New Zealand. Tsunami warnings were issued in Japan, the United States, New Zealand and Australia on occasion, but were later withdrawn.
Photos and videos show a submerged capital
It is still difficult to assess the extent of the damage caused by the tsunami in Tonga. The videos show floods and people fleeing from the waves to higher ground. The sky could also be seen darkened with ash.
A video clip taken by the High Commission of New Zealand in Nuku’alofa, Tonga’s capital, showed that the city center was flooded, including the royal palace and Tonga’s largest bank, according to a report in the British newspaper The Guardian. Images from other islands show torn roads and fragments of a destroyed seawall.
Hong Tonga is notorious for trouble
The charity Save the Children wrote that the immediate concern was air and water security. “The government has asked the public to wear masks and use bottled water for the time being.” In the hours following the outbreak, the islands’ telephone, internet and electricity were cut off. This makes it more difficult at the moment for the aid measures being launched from abroad for about 105,000 Tonga residents.
Honga Tonga is notorious for trouble. The volcano, whose full name is Hongja Tonga-Hungi Hapae, is 1800 meters high and 20 kilometers wide, and is located 65 kilometers north of Tonga’s capital, Nuku’alofa. Hunga Tonga has made headlines before. In 2015, the undersea volcano spewed ash and lava for weeks.
Tonga is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire
Air traffic had to be temporarily diverted, so that the eruption formed a new island about two kilometers long which was almost entirely made up of ash. “The beauty of nature was simply overwhelming,” Tonga Vatay Vaenga, who visited the island’s waters by boat at the time, wrote on her Facebook page.
Tonga is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire and experiences frequent seismic activity. Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are not uncommon. It also happens again and again that completely new areas are formed by volcanic eruptions.
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