Volcanic Eruption Devastates Tonga Island

Volcanic Eruption Devastates Tonga Island

Nina Cairo, Staff Writer

     On Jan. 15 a volcanic eruption in Tonga triggered a tsunami, leaving the country in a catastrophic disaster and with an inability to communicate internationally for aid. 

     The miraculous eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano led to excessive volcanic ash, an atmospheric shock and tsunami waves that reached as far as the west coast of the United States. 

     Three people died as a result of the eruption and tsunami, but officials are concerned that the contaminated air and water may cause even more harm to civilians. 

     “Communications remain down and the full extent of the harm to lives and property is currently unknown,” Parliament Speaker Lord Fakafanua said on social media. “What we do know is that Tonga needs immediate assistance to provide its citizens with fresh drinking water and food.”

        The civilians of Tonga are not only left with unhealthy and poor living conditions, but also with no way to digitally contact their friends and family outside of the country. 

     “The country’s only undersea internet cable connection to Fiji is inoperable,” Australian researcher Amanda Watson said. “People in Tonga cannot currently communicate their needs or contact their loved ones overseas, adding another layer of difficulty for so many.”

     The neighboring countries of New Zealand and Australia attempted to send flights to help the situation, but the clouds of volcanic ash proved to be a problematic obstacle.

     The eruption caused devastating damage like most natural disasters of its kind, however some consider it to be far more record-breaking than its predecessors.  

     According to volcanologist Shane Cronin on Radio New Zealand, “The large and explosive lateral spread of the eruption suggests that it was probably the biggest one since the 1991 eruption of Pinatubo.”

     As more assessment of damage is currently being executed, professionals and figures of authority in Tonga are trying to keep the country safe and optimistic. 

     In a video statement released on Jan. 17, Princess Latufuipeka of Tonga said,“Let us focus on gratitude, faith and taking refuge in God.”