Pacific volcano: New Zealand sends flight to assess Tonga damage

Image credit: wdrb.com

A plane from New Zealand has flown to Tonga to inspect the damage caused by a massive volcanic explosion that created a tsunami.

The eruption engulfed the Pacific islands in ash, disrupting power and communications. According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), up to 80,000 individuals could be affected.

So far, no deaths have been reported. However, information is limited, and New Zealand and Australia have dispatched surveillance planes to assess the extent of the damage.

On Saturday, the underwater volcano erupted, blasting a plume of ash into the sky and causing Tonga to issue warnings of 1.2m (4ft) waves. The eruption was so strong that it could be heard 2,383 kilometres (1,481 miles) away in New Zealand.

After being covered with a layer of volcanic ash, New Zealand’s Acting High Commissioner in Tonga, Peter Lund, has described the island nation as looking like a moonscape.

Videos showed traffic congestion as residents evacuated low-lying areas by car as the sky darkened with ash. Tonga’s internet and phone lines went down hours later, rendering the island’s 105,000 citizens virtually unavailable.

The volcano had been erupting for several days before the major eruption. Sulphur and ammonia smells were detected in some regions, according to the Tonga Meteorological Agency.

According to Ms Ardern, power was slowly being restored to some parts of the island, and mobile phones were starting to operate again. The condition of certain coastal areas, on the other hand, remained unknown.

Many Tongans in Australia and New Zealand have grown frightened for their safety due to their inability to communicate with their friends and family.

Fatima claimed she had not heard from her colleague, who owns a beachside restaurant in Nuku’alofa, Tonga’s capital.

Some outlying islands appear to have been inundated by the ocean, according to satellite photographs.

Experts claim the Hunga-Tonga-Ha’apai volcano’s eruption was one of the region’s most violent in decades.

It prompted tsunami warnings in several nations, including Japan and the United States, where coastal areas of California and Alaska were flooded.

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