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The Aftermath of Tonga’s Volcanic Eruption

todayJanuary 28, 2022 50 3

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The Aftermath of Tonga’s Volcanic Eruption

By Hannah Dunbar


On January 15th, an underwater volcano erupted and triggered a massive tsunami. The eruption and tsunami caused massive damage to the Tongan islands.

The eruption happened on the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano. That is 20 miles southeast of Tonga’s Fonuafo’ou island. The tsunami hit Tonga’s Tongatapu island.

The blast of the eruption launched materials as high as 40 kilometers in altitude. Nearby islands were blanketed with ash.

Tsunami warnings went all the way to the U.S. Pacific Coast. San Diego issued a tsunami advisory for their beaches the morning of the eruption. This advisory was in effect for Alaska and Hawaii too. 

Another result of the tsunami is that it caused an oil spill along the Peru coast. According to the United States Geological  Survey Weekly Volcano Activity Report, about 6,000 barrels of oil were spilled which severely impacted the local beaches and fishermen. 

The United Nations stated that about 84,000 people have been affected by the disaster, which is more than 80% of the population.

Floating debris hindered sea transportation and domestic flights were suspended with the exception of international flights bringing in relief supplies. 

Communication is limited as the underwater cable connected to Tonga was severed. Many families cannot get in contact with their loved ones as a result.

All the islands sustained damages caused by the ashfall and tsunami as reported by the Government of Tonga. 

Satellite images were also released showing the mass aftermath of the volcanic eruption. These images show the before and after effects of the natural disaster. The islands were once beautiful and filled with green, but now they’re brown and gray.

The footage of the eruption has been caught on satellite as well. A huge mushroom cloud can be seen as the volcano erupted. 

Scientists have stated that this is the world’s largest eruption in over 30 years. It’s also been proven by NASA scientists that the eruption was more powerful than the first atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima during World War II.

The area has been dealing with daily earthquake activity since the eruption. Fortunately, the people of Tonga have been receiving help in the form of international humanitarian aid. New Zealand has brought equipment to help repair communication. Australia and Britain have also sent out ships in order to aid the country. Residents helped sweep the ash off the Salote Pilolevu Airport runway on January 23. 

On January 27, at 6:40 AM (UTC), Pangai, Tonga was struck by an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.2 The quake occurred at a depth of 4.2 kilometers. There has not yet been any reports of damages. 

The most important concern right now is having access to drinking water. Most of the drinking water is tainted by ash. 

Tonga is still recovering from the eruption and with the communication being badly disrupted, it is hard to get instant updates.

Written by: Ray Fletcher

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