Disasters & Accidents

Tonga volcano that triggered tsunami disappears after violent eruption

Sydney, Australia, Jan 18 (EFE).- Recent satellite images show that the Tonga volcano whose violent eruption triggered a tsunami in the Pacific Ocean over the weekend has practically disappeared after the explosion recorded on Saturday, one of the most powerful in three decades.

Recent photographs of the United Nations Satellite Centre (UNOSAT) reveal that following the eruption of the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apa volcano, only two small portions of land remain above sea level.

Before the powerful blast, these two surviving portions – part of the underwater volcano’s cone – were much larger and linked by a tongue of land up to 1.2 kilometers (0.75 miles) wide.

Communication with Tonga remains limited three days after the eruption of the volcano, located about 65 kilometers north of Tongatapu – the country’s most populous island – and the subsequent tsunami.

At least two people are confirmed to have died in Tonga from the violent underwater volcano eruption and subsequent tsunami.

The Tongan foreign ministry confirmed the two fatalities, including a British national, public broadcaster Radio New Zealand reported.

Australia and New Zealand have sent reconnaissance flights to Tonga, made up of 169 islands and with a population of 105,000, to assess the damage caused by the eruption and tsunami, which also affected the coasts of the United States, Peru, Japan and Australia, among other countries.

Meanwhile, American company Planet, which has a network of 150 satellites, on Tuesday released aerial images of the devastation caused by the tsunami in Tonga.

“As the clouds clear, ashfall from the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano is visible on Tongatapu,” the company said in a message on Twitter alongside the images.

One of the photographs shows a coastal settlement with around 100 buildings and the nearby forests covered by a dense blanket of ash.

The thunderous eruption of Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai, a submarine volcano with a long history of activity and located between two islets – which are sometimes joined by the ash accumulated between them – could be heard hundreds of kilometers away and seen clearly from satellites in the Earth’s orbit. EFE


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