Tonga has experienced a volcanic eruption that triggered enormous tsunami waves, on Saturday the 15th January 2022. The tsunami was so severe to affect the coastline along Japan to the United State. Nuku’alofa, the capital of Tonga, suffered considerable damage with no fatalities reported so far though a full assessment is still underway.

Tonga Island

The volcanic eruption continued for at least eight minutes, emitting gas, ash and smoke into the air.  The severity extended to a 1.2-metre wave ashore in the Tonga capital, the thunder could be heard 10,000 kilometres (6,000 miles) away in Alaska.  In areas along the Pacific, Chanaral, Chile, Alaska to Mexico, which are more than 10,000 kilometres away, waves of 1.74 metres (five and a half feet) were measured.  Waves of about 1.2 metres (four feet) were measured along the Pacific coast of Japan, forcing Peru to close 22 ports as a precaution.

The New Zealand embassy in Tonga reported that the tsunami washed away boats and large boulders ashore, on the northern side of Nuku’alofa. The embassy also stated that conditions in Nuku’alofa are calm although the capital is covered in thick volcanic dust.  Residents along the shores fled to higher ground as stones and ash fell from the sky and, their houses were flooded houses with structural damages.

Tsunami Wave

Tonga urgently requires water supplies as the Volcano ash cloud contaminated fresh water in the capital.  Many countries have weighed in, pledging their support for Tonga.  New Zealand’s defense force promised to engage their air force reconnaissance aircraft as soon as the smoke clears.  Canberra offered to involve a surveillance flight while Australia’s foreign office is ready to offer critical humanitarian supplies.  The United Nations children’s agency stated that it was preparing to fly emergency supplies into Tonga in collaboration with New Zealand and Australia.

Tedros Ghebreyesus of the World Health Organization tweeted, stating that WHO was ready to support the government of Tonga and its people.  Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State, stated that the US pledges support for the people of Tonga.