Forty-eight hours after a massive undersea volcanic eruption triggered tsunami waves around the Pacific Ocean, reaching as far as Japan to the US West Coast, "significant damage" has been reported on the island nation of Tonga.
Tonga's capital, Nuku'alofa, suffered "significant damage," according to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. She said a full assessment of the situation has yet to be conducted because all communication lines are down.
"The tsunami has had a significant impact on the foreshore on the northern side of Nuku'alofa with boats and large boulders washed ashore," Ardern said after contact with the New Zealand embassy in Tonga.
"Nuku'alofa is covered in a thick film of volcanic dust but otherwise conditions are calm and stable," she said.
Ardern said the island is in desperate need of aid, such as food and water supplies, as "the ash cloud has caused contamination."
A statement released by Parliament Speaker Lord Fakafanua of Tonga said the island nation is in desperate need of assistance.
On January 15, 2022, following an unprecedented volcanic eruption, a devastating tsunami struck the Kingdom of Tonga. Many areas were also affected by substantial volcanic ashfall. Communications remain down and the full extent of the harm to lives and property is currently unknown. What we do know is that Tonga needs immediate assistance to provide its citizens with fresh drinking water and food. More details on Tonga's official disaster relief fund will be announced shortly so that those looking to help can contribute directly to Tonga's relief efforts. To ensure the help kindly offered reaches those in need, we must ensure relief funds are verified, transparent and legitimate, please keep the people of Tonga in your prayers, and may God bless you.
Before the island was covered in ash and communications systems went down, people tweeted a tsunami was hitting the capital.
Mannnn my heart hurts for my people rn 😭🇹🇴🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/QjzW5f1uAy— Aki🌴🇹🇴 (@ahkee_fifita) January 15, 2022
This family were in church. They’d just finish having choir practice and the tsunami hit 😩❤️🇹🇴 pic.twitter.com/DLLFRJ9BAc— KNOWKNEE (@JohnnyTeisi) January 15, 2022
Epoch Times said the eruption of the undersea volcano was a "one-in-1,000-year event." Here's satellite imagery of the explosion that was felt around the world.
The violent eruption a few hours ago of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haʻapai volcano captured by satellites GOES-West and Himawari-8. pic.twitter.com/PzV5v9apF6— Wonder of Science (@wonderofscience) January 15, 2022
As of Monday morning, the full extent of the deaths and property damage is unknown. A linger ash cloud has made it hard for satellites to observe the island. Australia and New Zealand have deployed surveillance flights today.
For Tongans living overseas, the last two days have been absolutely brutal without communication channels to speak with family and friends. There are reports from the Pacific correspondent for Television New Zealand, Barbara Dreaver, that it would take two weeks before "international phones and internet are working again."