Tonga Volcano Eruption

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The Hunga Tonga–Hunga Haʻapai volcanic island just before it erupted

The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano in the Kingdom of Tonga erupted on Jan. 15, 2022. The volcano is located 40 miles north of Tonga’s main island, Tongatapu.

The eruption caused a tsunami that hit Tonga, Fiji, Samoa and along the rim of the pacific ocean, including damages in New Zealand, Japan, The United States, Chile, and Peru. Tonga was dealt most of the damage from these tsunamis. Roughly 84% of the country’s population has been affected by the eruption.  

Three people were killed as a result of the volcano and many more were injured. The three casualties were one British national and two Tongan nationals. Along with the casualties, many homes and businesses have been destroyed. On Tonga’s main island, Tongatapu, approximately100 houses have been damaged and 50 completely destroyed.  

The eruption itself was the largest in over three decades. According to an analysis by NASA scientists, the eruption was hundreds of times more powerful than the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima during World War Two. NASA also says the eruption was equivalent to 4-18 megatons of TNT. 

Efforts to cleanup and rebuild Tonga have already begun, but it will still take a while for Tonga to return to normal. Tonga’s Prime Minister, Siaosi Sovaleni, says that the country needs basic supplies like gardening tools, breakfast food and outboard motors right now.