“The tsunami had a significant impact” on the capital of the Tonga islands, “with boats and large rocks washing up on the shore”, but no casualties were reported, according to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
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Posted on 01/16/2022 10:55 Updated on 01/16/2022 10:57
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The threat is “generally past” according to Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC). But the tidal wave caused by the powerful eruption of an underwater volcano in the Tonga Islands in the South Pacific Ocean has caused significant damage, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Sunday (January 16th).
“The tsunami had a significant impact on the northern coastline of Nuku’alofa”, the capital of the Tonga islands, “with boats and large rocks washed ashore”, but no casualties were reported, said the New Zealand leader. She added that the extent of the damage was difficult to assess in the small Pacific kingdom as communications were cut. “Nuku’alofa is covered in a thick cloud of volcanic ash, but otherwise the situation is calm and stable,” the prime minister added after contacting her country’s embassy in Tonga. Tonga needs a water supply, she added, because “the ash cloud has caused contamination”.
The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai eruption triggered tsunamis in the Pacific, with waves of 1.74 meters measured in Chanaral, Chile, more than 10,000 kilometers away, and smaller waves observed on along the Pacific coast from Alaska to Mexico. Waves of about 1.2 meters hit the Pacific coast of Japan. The eruption was so powerful it was even heard in Alaska, reported the Institute of Geophysics at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
The Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai submarine volcano, located about 65 km from the Tongan capital Nuku’alofa, had emerged during an eruption in 2009. Six years later, it had spit out so many rocks and of ash that a new island two kilometers long by one kilometer wide and 100 meters high formed when they settled.
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