/ 17 January 2022

Tonga covered in ash

Image source: Unsplash
Image source: Unsplash

A massive underwater volcanic eruption about 30km southeast of Tonga’s Fonuafo’ou island on Saturday afternoon has been described as a one-in-1,000-years blast. The eruption from the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano shook the earth for several minutes, and a sonic boom could be heard as far away as Alaska. The extent of the damage has been hard to gauge with communications to Tonga remaining cut, but a severe tsunami hit Tongatapu – the island where the capital is located. Reports also say Tonga has been covered with ash making it look “like a moonscape” and contaminating the water supply. A tsunami warning was in place for NSW, Queensland, Norfolk and Lord Howe Islands yesterday, and parts of the east coast received their highest tsunami waves in 60 years. Several South Pacific islands, New Zealand, Japan, and the US were also affected. Australia will partner with New Zealand sending supplies and personnel to support Tonga’s recovery. And more eruptions from the volcano are expected this week.

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