Nuku’alofa, 16 January 2022 (TDI): A submerged volcano erupted off Tonga, a Polynesian archipelagic country, on Saturday. The eruption was so strong that it triggered tsunami warnings in many countries including New Zealand, the US, Canada, Japan, Fiji as well as other Pacific islands.

Today, a tsunami flooded Nuku’alofa, Tonga’s capital, after a large eruption from the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai underwater volcano. Tsunami waves were also witnessed in the capital of American Samoa, Pago Pago.

Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano lies about 40 miles north of Nuku’alofa. According to Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology, the eight-minute eruption caused a four-foot tsunami wave.

The Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano has exploded regularly over the past few decades. Nevertheless, this latest explosion was so intense that locals in parts of Fiji 500 miles away, as well as in New Zealand 1,400 miles away heard it.

Satellite imagery captured the eruption as it sent clouds of smoke into the air, about 12 miles above sea level, darkening the sky by the ash. Reportedly, King Tupou VI of Tonga had been safely evacuated.

Meteorology Departments of the countries that are anticipating a possible tsunami threat are on red alert and residents have been cautioned to seek higher ground and avoid shorelines. US Geological Survey shared that the eruptions were equivalent to “a magnitude 5.8 earthquake at zero depth.”

World Leaders Expressed Solidarity For the Affected Country

Leaders across the world came forward to empathize with the affected country and took to Twitter to express solidarity. Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand stated that Tonga’s capital suffered “significant” damage from the volcanic eruption.

Several boats and boulders washed ashore and Nuku’alofa is engulfed in a thick film of volcanic dust. As a result, New Zealand has not been able to send a surveillance flight. New Zealand’s Defence Force claimed in a tweet that it was ready to send a reconnaissance aircraft “as soon as atmospheric conditions allow”.

However, so far there haven’t been reports of injuries or deaths. Jacinda Ardern further stated that her government had now established contact with New Zealand’s Embassy in Tonga.

Humanitarian Groups and Pacific Nations are struggling to establish communications with the affected country as the eruption left 105,000 residents practically inaccessible because of damaged telephone and internet connections.

Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State expressed deep concern for the people of Tonga as they recover from the aftereffects of the volcanic eruption and tsunami. He stated through Twitter that the United States is prepared to provide support to its Pacific neighbors.

Antonio Guterres, the Secretary-General of UN shred on Twitter that he was closely following the situation in Tonga with concern. He further enunciated that the UN offices in the Pacific were closely monitoring the situation and were on standby to provide support if needed.