October 1, 2022

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Volcanic eruption separates Tonga from the outside world


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Volcanic eruption separates Tonga from the outside world

The island kingdom of Tonga has been cut off from the outside world by the massive volcanic eruption of a submarine in the Pacific Ocean. It is not yet known how big the damage will be.

A tsunami alert has been issued for the Pacific Ocean following a volcanic eruption near the island nation of Tonga. © AAP Image / Tonga Weather Services / dpa

3 minutes study time

Nuku’alofa / Wellington. Two days after a massive eruption of a submarine near the Pacific island nation of Tonga, military planes from New Zealand and Australia have been monitoring the situation from the sky. The extent of the damage in the South Seas archipelago is not yet clear.

Communications there were severely disrupted on Monday, especially on some remote islands of Tonga, which have not been contacted since the Hanga-Tonga-Hunga-ha’bai eruption. Radio New Zealand reported on Monday that the local government was sending ships to investigate the situation. There are about 170 islands in Tonga, 36 of which are uninhabited.

The noise of Saturday’s explosion was heard thousands of miles away. A large gray cloud rose for kilometers like a mushroom cloud. The eruption triggered waves and intensified in many Pacific countries.

Ash and volcanic gases arise after a volcanic eruption under the sea in the island kingdom of Tonga.

Ash and volcanic gases arise after a volcanic eruption under the sea in the island kingdom of Tonga. © New Zealand High Commission / Zuma Press Wire Service

Tsunami waves were also reported in New Zealand and Japan

Tsunami waves were recorded not only in Tonga but also in New Zealand, Japan, Alaska and South America. Aid agencies have warned Tongan residents to wear masks and drink only bottled water, warning of the dangers posed by ash. According to media reports, flooding has also occurred in Peru, but on Sunday (local time) the situation returned to normal. Meanwhile, there was a tsunami alert for Easter Island and coastal areas of Chile, which was later removed again.

According to experts, the eruption has been the strongest in the world for 30 years. Shane Cronin, a volcanologist at Auckland Radio University in New Zealand, said preliminary data showed that there had been no such violent eruption since the Pinotubo eruption in the Philippines in 1991. If there had been an explosion on the ground, the effects would have been “apocalyptic,” Cronin said. It is not clear whether the latest eruption represents the culmination of the process. The volcano can remain dormant for weeks or even years.

Artern: “Water is urgently needed”

Gray worms triggered by a volcanic eruption have now reached the east coast of Australia, according to the New Zealand Meteorological Center. It said the cloud was moving west across Queensland and would cover most of the state during the day.

According to Prime Minister Jacintha Arden, New Zealand wants to send a second Hercules machine to Tonga with vital relief supplies. Artern told reporters Monday that if the runway in Nokuoloba, the capital of Tonga, is damaged, supplies could also be thrown away.

In Tuticorin, New Zealand, people stand on the harbor and watch the boat in danger of sinking in the harbor.

In Tuticorin, New Zealand, people stand on the harbor and watch the boat in danger of sinking in the harbor. © Tanya White / NZME / dpa

“The planes operating today will help identify where they are needed,” Artern said. “We know there is an urgent need for water and we hope Hercules can be launched today to meet that need.” It is not yet clear whether he was killed or injured.

Following the eruption of a submarine volcano, a Royal Australian Air Force plane is scheduled to assist the Tongan government.

Following the eruption of a submarine volcano, a Royal Australian Air Force plane is scheduled to assist the Tongan government. © ADF / Royal Australian Air Force v

Ash rain from volcanic eruption

As a result of the quake, an important cable under the sea was also cut off, so the internet was paralyzed in Tonga. Other communication connections were also disrupted, but mobile phones seemed to work at least partially, though not only locally and internationally.

“This is a terrible time, but Nuku’alofa is still standing and electricity has been restored to many homes,” Peter Lund, New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Tonga, said on Facebook. The capital is under a layer of volcanic ash. Cleaning work is scheduled to begin this week.

The submarine, about 65 kilometers from the capital of Tonga, erupted for two consecutive days. The epicenter was reported below the Pacific Ocean floor, however; no tsunami alert was issued. Fiji residents have been urged to keep water tanks covered and to stay indoors if ash falls. (dpa)

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