Yet another island wiped out by Tonga volcanic eruption

An aerial view of Atatā island taken by New Zealand Defence Force after the eruption of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai and tsunami. Photo: NZDF

The Tongan government has verified three deaths due to Saturday's eruption of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai, and the island of Mango's entire population has been displaced.

In a CCTV photo provided online by a resort on the island of Atat, the New Zealand Defence Force described the devastation to the island as "catastrophic."

On 18 January, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) released an image of Atat island, estimating that 72 structures had been damaged and the island had been completely coated in ash.

However, it warned that the study was preliminary and not validated on the ground.

The Royal Sunset Island resort informed residents via Facebook that they had been evacuated to the mainland.

The tsunami entirely flooded the resort, and little was expected to remain.

Meanwhile, the New Zealand government stated today that it had approved the entry of two naval ships carrying supplies to Tonga.

The ships were dispatched before the Tongan government made an official request for assistance. Still, a statement from Minister of Foreign Affairs Nanaia Mahuta's office this afternoon confirmed the vessels anticipated to arrive by Friday, weather permitting - had been approved.

The eruption was very certainly the largest in the last three decades, and communications disruptions following the disaster have delayed support and relief operations.

SubCom of the United States estimated that it would take at least four weeks to restore the undersea cable that transmits most of Tonga's communications.

Today, a mobile network was planned to be constructed utilizing the satellite dish at the University of South Pacific, though the connectivity would likely be limited and patchy.

Volcanic activity and the tsunami threat are being closely monitored.

Publish : 2022-01-19 13:12:00

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