Tonga Tsunami Rampages Through Pacific Rim

Photo by Ray Harrington from Unsplash

On Jan. 15, 2022, the Hunga Tonga underwater volcano erupted sending ash 100,000 feet into the air. This left the South Pacific island nation, Tonga, covered in ash and without clean water or power. On top of that, an undersea communications cable was severed which has created problems for other countries trying to assess how to help and is expected not to be fixed for weeks. This is the largest eruption in 30 years and was heard all the way in Alaska. This eruption in turn produced the Hunga Tsunami which damaged Tonga and was felt throughout the Pacific Rim, including Washington’s coast. The tsunami has caused increased heights of waves, killing two people in Peru. Countries, especially in the western pacific ocean, are experiencing flooding, including California. As for Tonga, the effects of the eruption and tsunami led their government to declare a state of emergency on Jan. 19.

In Tonga, there have only been three people reported dead so far, but the country has experienced extensive damage leaving entire neighborhoods destroyed. It is estimated that 80 percent of the population has been negatively impacted and that the whole economically vital agricultural sector has been wrecked. The pandemic has made receiving the necessary aid challenging, being that Tonga has been nearly Covid-free. As a workaround, Defense Minister Peeni Henare said “the delivery of supplies will be contactless and the aircraft is expected to be on the ground for up to 90 minutes.” On Jan. 20, the first wave of aid flights from New Zealand and Australia arrived in Tonga bringing water containers, temporary shelters, hygiene and family kits, power generators, and communication equipment. Additionally, New Zealand sent out two ships carrying water, humanitarian aid, and disaster relief supplies. Lastly, the U.S. has sent $100,000 in immediate assistance to help Tonga.