SHOCKING before and after satellite photos have revealed the full scale of the devastation caused by the catastrophic tsunami in Tonga which is even visible from space.
According to images taken around 12 hours later, the island of Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai has completely disappeared following the volcanic eruption.
An image taken on December 8, compared to one taken on January 16, shows the damage caused by the eruption[/caption]
A satellite image taken in April 2020 and an image taken after the volcano eruption shows the area covered in volcanic ash[/caption]
The island of Tongatapu has been severely damaged[/caption]
The volcano last erupted in 2014[/caption]
The main island Tongatapu has been heavily affected, with water damage being visible to the northern and southern sides.
The volcano which last erupted in 2014, has also caused damage to the islands of Uoleva and Nomuka.
While Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai has erupted regularly over the past few decades, early data suggests the eruption was the biggest since Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines 30 years ago, New Zealand-based volcanologist Shane Cronin told Radio New Zealand.
He said: “This is an eruption best witnessed from space.”
While initial reports do not suggest mass casualties, two people have been reported missing.
“Further volcanic activity cannot be ruled out,” the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in the update today.
It added that the official assessments have not been released yet as the communications have been badly hit.
Concern has been mounting for the inhabitants of two small low-lying islands- Fonoi and Mango -after a distress beacon was detected.
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According to the Tonga government, 36 people live on Mango and 69 on Fonoi.
It comes as the body of the missing British charity worker Angela Glover, 50, was discovered by her husband James earlier today.
Two more people have drowned at the coast of Peru after the tsunami sparked high waves.
The impact of the eruption was felt as far away as Fiji, New Zealand, the United States and Japan.
Aid workers have warned 80,000 of Tonga’s residents could be affected.
Meanwhile, Australia and New Zealand have sent surveillance flights today to assess the damage.
Australia’s Minister for the Pacific Zed Seselja said Australian police had visited beaches and reported significant damage with “houses thrown around”.
Tonga’s deputy head of mission in Australia, Curtis Tu’ihalangingie, said Tonga was concerned about the risk of aid deliveries spreading COVID-19 to the island, which is COVID-free.
“We don’t want to bring in another wave – a tsunami of COVID-19,” Tu’ihalangingie told Reuters by telephone.
The Haatafu Beach Resort, on the Hihifo peninsula, 13 miles west of the capital Nukualofa, was completely wiped out, the owners said on Facebook.
The family that manages the resort had run for their lives through the bush to escape the tsunami, it said. The whole western coastline has been completely destroyed along with Kanukupolu village, the resort said.
The Red Cross said it was mobilising its network to respond to what it called the worst volcanic eruption the Pacific has experienced in decades.
Alexander Matheou, the federation’s Asia Pacific regional director, said water purification, providing shelter, and reuniting families were the priorities – but they had yet to establish direct contact with colleagues on the ground and were relying on estimates based on previous such disasters.
Dramatic official aerial maps showed the eruption cloud over Tonga[/caption]