Tonga volcano ash hinders response | Daily News

Tonga volcano ash hinders response

TONGA: The tsunami threat around the Pacific from a huge undersea volcanic eruption began to recede Sunday, but the massive ash cloud covering the tiny island nation of Tonga prevented surveillance flights from New Zealand to assess the extent of damage.

Satellite images showed the spectacular eruption that took place Saturday evening, with a plume of ash, steam and gas rising like a mushroom above the blue Pacific waters. A sonic boom could be heard as far away as Alaska.

In Tonga it sent tsunami waves crashing across the shore and people rushing to higher ground.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said there had not yet been any official reports of injuries or deaths in Tonga, but cautioned that authorities hadn't yet made contact with some coastal areas and smaller islands.

Ardern said New Zealand was unable to send a surveillance flight over Tonga on Sunday because the ash cloud was 63,000 feet (19,000 metres) high.

On Tonga, which is home to about 105,000 people, video posted to social media showed large waves washing ashore in coastal areas and swirling around homes, a church and other buildings. A Twitter user identified as Dr. Faka’iloatonga Taumoefolau posted video showing waves crashing ashore.

The explosion of the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano, about 64 kilometres (40 miles) north of Nuku’alofa, was the latest in a series of dramatic eruptions. In late 2014 and early 2015, eruptions created a small new island and disrupted international air travel to the Pacific archipelago for several days.

- THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS


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