Second major eruption detected at undersea Hunga Tonga volcano

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New York Post

17th January 2022 – (Tonga) A  second major eruption has been detected at the Hunga Tonga volcano on Monday, according to an alert from Australia’s Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre.

There were no casualties reported from the second eruption on Sunday night. However, evacuation measures are underway, Australian outlets reported.

The underwater Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano violently erupted just three days ago on Friday, sending tsunami waves barrelling towards the isolated island nation and putting the entire Pacific rim on tsunami watch.

Tonga’s capital, Nukuʻalofa, is located 40 miles south of the eruption. The country’s 105,000 residents have been mostly cut off from global communications after telephone and internet links were damaged. Officials were working to contact those residing on islands closer to the blast.

The number of casualties have not yet been reported. Australia and New Zealand deployed surveillance flights to assess the damages. Relief efforts have been hindered by vast plumes of ash discharged during the eruption, according to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Australia’s Minister for the Pacific Zed Seselja said initial reports suggested no mass casualties and that the airport “appears to be in relatively good condition” but there was “significant damage” to the country’s roads and bridges.

Seselja said Australia is coordinating with New Zealand, The United States and France to send help.

While there are no confirmed reports of loss of life, a UK woman reportedly went missing after she was washed away, according to New Zealand state media station TVNZ.

The outlet reported that Angela Grover and her husband James, who operate a tattoo parlor in Nuku’alofa, had gone outside to get their dogs when the tsunami hit. James was able to hold onto a tree, but his wife and their dogs were washed away.

The Red Cross said it is responding with supplies to what it called the worst volcanic eruptions the Pacific has experienced in decades.

“Red Cross currently has enough relief supplies in the country to support 1,200 households with essential items such as tarpaulins, blankets, kitchen sets, shelter tool kits and hygiene kits,” said Katie Greenwood, IFRC’s Pacific Head of Delegation.

Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai erupted several times over the past few decades, with notable eruptions in 2014 and 2015 when it formed an uninhabited island. It began erupting again Dec. 20, according to the Smithsonian’s Global Volcanism Program.

The volcano became increasingly explosive, discharging record-setting levels of lighting, meteorologist Chris Vagasky told National Geographic.

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