Tonga Satellite Images Show How Volcano Blew Island to Pieces

Bloomberg Quicktake: Now published this video item, entitled “Tonga Satellite Images Show How Volcano Blew Island to Pieces” – below is their description.

New satellite images released after the dramatic eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano on Saturday evening have revealed early indications of the damage inflicted on the nearby islands and the Tongan capital of Nukuʻalofa.

In photos published by Maxar on Tuesday, taken first in April 2021 and then again after the eruption, Nukuʻalofa is shown covered in a carpet of dark brown ash, while images from the capital’s port appear to show tsunami damage. The volcano is located about 64 kilometers (40 miles) north of the capital.

The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano in April 2021, top, and on Jan. 18.

Meanwhile the island at the heart of the eruption has been almost entirely submerged, according to the satellite images, with just small spits of land remaining above water. The ash cloud from the seismic event rose up to 63,000 feet (19,000 meters) high, while the shockwave could be felt as far as Alaska, according to AP.

At least two people, including a British national, are believed to have died in eruption, according to the New Zealand Foreign Ministry. However the true extent of the damage is still unknown, with communications to the island disrupted as a result of damage to an undersea Internet cable.

The volcano is located about 64 kilometers (40 miles) north of the capital Nukuʻalofa.

Efforts were underway in Nukuʻalofa on Tuesday to clear the airport runways, allowing additional humanitarian supplies to be flown in, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said.

Payne told local radio that both Australia and New Zealand were providing emergency drinking water and water purification equipment to Tonga due to contamination of the island’s drinking supply by the ash cloud.

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New Zealand is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It consists of two main landmasses—the North Island and the South Island —and around 600 smaller islands, covering a total area of 268,021 square kilometres.

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Tonga is a Polynesian kingdom of more than 170 South Pacific islands, many uninhabited, most lined in white beaches and coral reefs and covered with tropical rainforest. The main island, Tongatapu, is protected by lagoons and limestone cliffs. It’s home to the rural capital of Nuku’alofa, as well as beach resorts, plantations and the Ha’amonga ʻa Maui, a monumental coral gate from the 1200s. 

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A volcano is a rupture in the crust of a planetary-mass object, such as Earth, that allows hot lava, volcanic ash, and gases to escape from a magma chamber below the surface. On Earth, volcanoes are most often found where tectonic plates are diverging or converging, and most are found underwater.

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