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.
The massive eruption of an undersea volcano near the island of Tonga caused a tsunami in the Pacific Ocean. Tsunami waves were recorded not only in Tonga, but also in New Zealand, Japan and Fiji.
Flooding in Santa Cruz, California, has also been attributed to the outbreak. On Sunday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said there were no official reports of injuries or deaths. The United States and the United Nations pledged assistance.
The eruption of the Hongga-Tonga-Hongga-Hapai volcano under the sea off Tonga on Friday raised tsunami warnings in many parts of the Pacific Ocean. People have been urged to stay away from coastal areas.
High waves and volcanic dust
Ardern said the tsunami “has hit hard” on the northern side of Nuku’alofa, the capital of Tonga. According to the Australian Meteorological Service, the wave height was 1.2 metres. Ardern said boats and rocks were washed ashore and buildings were damaged. Tonga was covered in volcanic dust as a result of the volcanic eruption, and communication links with the island kingdom in the South Pacific were restricted by undersea cable damage. In Tonga, local media reported ash rains, submerging homes and cutting telephone and electricity connections.
Ardern said authorities are working to restore contacts as quickly as possible. At the moment, “unfortunately you don’t get much information from the outer islands (…). The water supply in Tonga is a priority.
The New Zealand Defense Forces will attempt to launch a reconnaissance flight on Monday. Ash was seen at an altitude of about 20 kilometers, which currently makes flying unsafe. A warship was also put on standby to assist if needed. According to media reports, the sixth king of Tonga Tubu. He was brought to safety from the royal palace in the capital, Nuku’alofa.
Also in tidal waves in Fiji, New Zealand and Japan
According to Japanese media, tsunami waves of about one meter in height were recorded on the northeastern coast of Iwate Prefecture and in the southwest of Amami. Meanwhile, about 210,000 residents were asked to visit the hills. There were no reports of damage or injuries.
A tsunami was also reported from New Zealand, where several boats sank at a marina in Northland after a 1.3-meter tsunami.
Shirana Ali, executive director of Save the Children Fiji, said Fiji and Vanuatu were affected by the tidal waves. There was damage in coastal areas, but there were no deaths.
According to authorities, ash also fell on parts of Fiji, about 600 km from the volcano. People have been warned to protect the water supply, to stay indoors and to wear a mask when going outside.
Guterres is ‘very concerned’
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “deeply concerned”. The United Nations is monitoring the situation closely and stands ready to provide support. “The United States stands ready to provide support to our Pacific neighbors,” US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken wrote on Twitter.
The US National Weather Service (NOAA) announced Saturday that the effects can also be felt in parts of the country’s west coast and in Alaska. A tsunami warning has also been issued for Hawaii. She added that so far there were no reports of damage there.
Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai has been active since December. The volcano is located about 30 kilometers southeast of the island of Fonuafo’ou in Tonga (also known as Falcon Island).
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