Tonga volcano eruption and tsunami leaves trail of flood damage | Tonga

Tsunami waves brought on by an undersea volcano have flooded the Pacific Island nation of Tonga, the place complete cities have been inundated with water and scientists warn the principle island could possibly be blanketed in volcanic ash.

Movies shared on social media after the eruption confirmed folks operating for larger floor because the one metre excessive floods hit coastal areas and made their manner farther inland whereas the sky darkened with ash.

A video shot from the roof of a constructing on the coast confirmed massive waves breaching the coastal wall seconds aside, whereas a video shot from the New Zealand excessive fee in Nuku’alofa, the place folks ran for shelter, confirmed the downtown space of Patangata had been utterly submerged, together with the Royal Palace and Tonga’s largest financial institution.

Tonga underwater volcanic eruption creates tsunami waves – video
Tonga underwater volcanic eruption creates tsunami waves – video

One other video, shot inside a church, confirmed kids crying out as water surrounded the constructing and waves start lapping up towards the home windows. In a video posted to YouTube after the eruption, Abraham Leilua begins by telling his followers that “it’s not that unhealthy” however inside minutes, because the water rises, saying: “I’ve to run for my life” earlier than ending the video.


Blake Smith-Tatafi, a Tongan based mostly in Australia, stated they have been praying and in worry. “Should you don’t know, the island of Tonga is flat. This leaves their folks with nowhere of sensible security to evacuate. Villages utterly underwater. We haven’t had contact for hours now. This can be a disaster,” he stated.

Pita Taufatoua, a Tongan Olympian based mostly in Australia, stated he had not heard from his father or household in Ha’apai, the bottom mendacity islands in Tonga.

“Preliminary reviews of damage have been catastrophic and all communications with Tonga have been worn out,” he stated. “While I can’t help household at this second I’ll deal with nation as extra data comes out.”

Apart from the movies posted on-line, little was recognized concerning the damage induced as web connectivity was misplaced at about 6.40pm native time. Southern Cross Cable Community stated on Sunday that it had been capable of verify contact with a communications centre in Tonga and work was underneath approach to have web and cellphone hyperlinks restored.

An internet post on Sunday morning said that the Tongan prime minister, Siaosi Sovaleni, stated the tsunami warning remained in place and a lot of the nation had sustained critical damage. Australia’s overseas affairs division stated its excessive fee had obtained no reviews of casualties.

New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, stated the scenario in Tonga was “massively regarding”.

“Communication, consequently of the eruption, has been troublesome, however our defence power crew and ministry of overseas affairs are working as we converse to ascertain what’s wanted and how we might help,” she stated.

A damaged boat at Tutukaka, New Zealand, after tsunami waves from the Tongan volcano eruption swept into the marina.
A broken boat at Tutukaka, New Zealand, after tsunami waves from the Tongan volcano eruption swept into the marina. {Photograph}: Tanya White/AP

New Zealand has made an preliminary NZ$500,000 obtainable to Tonga and has dispatched an aerial surveillance plane to evaluate the damage.

The Save the Youngsters Fiji chief govt, Shairana Ali, stated it was intently monitoring the scenario and ready to reply. “Our ideas have been for the security of our Tongan brothers and sisters, and Save the Youngsters is effectively positioned to help as wanted,” she stated, including that the “booms from the eruption of the Tonga volcano could possibly be clearly heard in Fiji”.

The volcano, Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai, at 1,800m excessive and 20km broad, is 65km north of Tonga’s capital, Nuku’alofa. US Storm Watch stated the eruption was one of essentially the most violent ever captured on satellite tv for pc, whereas the Tonga geological service stated the fuel, smoke and ash from the eruption reached 20km into the sky.

The eruption could possibly be heard as far-off as 2,300km away in New Zealand, whereas tsunami warnings have been in power at numerous instances throughout the Pacific, together with in Australia, Japan and the US. Some coastal communities in Fiji and Vanuatu have been broken by massive waves, whereas tidal surges have been reported to have broken harbours and coastal parks alongside the US west coast.


Tonga has additionally been hit by two class 5 cyclones within the final 5 years: Cyclone Harold in April 2020 and Cyclone Gita in 2018.

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