‘Tonga eruption 100 times powerful than Hiroshima bombing`
Published: 03:48 PM, 25 January 2022 Updated: 03:50 PM, 25 January 2022
The US space agency NASA said that Last week's volcanic eruption in Tonga was hundreds of times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped by the United States on Hiroshima in Japan during World War II.
A whole island was destroyed and sank at the eruption and aftermath tsunami.
Calling it the 'worst eruption in three decades;, the Tongan government said four-fifths of the population had been affected by the tsunami and volcanic eruptions. At least three people died. The government also released the names of the two Tongan people who died in the tsunami: Lataimaumi Lauaki, a 49 years old woman from Nomuka; and Telai Tutu’ila, a 65 years old man from Mango Island. They were buried in the days after the disaster.
The statement said that the nearby islands were severely damaged by the eruption of Hanga Tonga Hanga Ha'pai volcano on January 15. All the houses on one island have been destroyed and only two remain on another island.
Prior to the eruption, Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha'pai were two separate islands, with the addition of new land in 2015.
According to NASA, the eruption was so powerful that the new land completely disappeared, as well as a large part of the old two islands.
Dealing with ash, gas and toxic fumes from volcanoes has become a major challenge for the Tongan government. Immediately after the eruption and tsunami, it was thought that the thin layer of ash had contaminated the water. This can lead to the spread of water borne diseases like diarrhoea and cholera.
However, Tonga officials said primary tests showed ground water and rain water were potable. Yet volcanic ash remains a serious threat to public health. It can cause damage to the heart, lungs, eyes and skin, including asthema.
As the only clinic in the area was destroyed in the eruption and tsunami, the rescuers have had to build a temporary hospital and provide medical services. Immediately after the devastation, neighboring countries extended a helping hand to Tonga. Australia and New Zealand have sent relief aid to Tonga, including food, water, medicine and tents, using air and naval forces.
Tonga was cut off for five days in a row after a volcanic eruption. The island nation has no internet connection due to the rupture of fiber-optic cable connected to the rest of the world right now. Telephone lines have to be repaired and communication has to be done somehow.
The Tongan government says a ship is soon to arrive this week to repair the internet cable. However, it can take up to four weeks to fully complete the task.
Meanwhile, satellite images have revealed scenes of the terrible condition of the Tonga Islands in the eruption. The country's capital, Nuku'Alofa, was also hit. On January 18, the space technology company Maxar released some pictures of the Tonga Islands. Some were taken in April 2021 and others after the eruption.
The capital of Tonga, which is about 64 kilometers away from the volcano, was seen completely covered with ash. And the island at the center of the eruption is now almost entirely under water. Only a few fragmentary parts of it can be seen on the water. The ash cloud created by the powerful eruption rose up to 63,000 feet. Its shockwaves have also been found in faraway Alaska.