The volcanic eruption in Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai, an underwater volcanic island in the South Pacific has unleashed explosive forces that are said to be as powerful as the Hiroshima atomic bomb, the scientists have said. The survivors of the Pacific blast are still in shock. The eruption generated a 7.4 magnitude earthquake and also led to the triggering of Tsunami waves in the Pacific ocean.
The NASA Earth Observatory has stated that the Tonga-Hunga Ha’pai volcano eruption stating that the debris spewed from the volcano went as high as 25 miles into the atmosphere on January 15 eruption that eventually triggered the Tsunami waves. A NASA scientist has mentioned that the amount of energy released by the volcanic eruption is equivalent to around 5-30 million tonnes of TNT.
The violent eruption is said to be a hundred times stronger than the bombing of the Japanese city of Hiroshima by the US in August 1945, the energy in the Hiroshima bombing was around 15,000 tonnes of TNT. Mount St. Helens, in 1980, exploded with 24 megatons of energy and the Krakatoa, in 1883, erupted with 200 megatons of energy according to the scientists. NASA has said that the eruption has destroyed the volcanic island that is situated 41 miles north of the Tongan capital, Nuku’alofa. Only two Tongan islands namely Hunga Tonga and Hunga-Ha’apai remain above the volcano, as per the Radar measurements that were conducted before and after the eruption. The changes are visible on the NASA Earth Observatory Digital elevation maps.
The island kingdom was covered in toxic ash led to the poisoning of drinking water, destruction of the crops, and wiped two villages out completely. Three lives were claimed in Tonga and three bachelors in Peru when the freak waves hit the nation. The authorities in Peru have declared an environmental disaster as the waves hit an oil tanker that was offloading near Lima and has created a huge slick along the coast of Peru.
Communications with Tonga have not been restored yet so the scale of destruction remains unclear. The locals of Tonga are still coming to terms with the disaster that has resulted in psychological trauma in people. The coating of the fine grey grime covering the island has led to difficulty in living and has also led to concerns about long-term health issues of the people.
Many countries including Japan, New Zealand, and Australia have started the delivery of urgent relief supplies, mostly water while maintaining the COVID protocols to preserve the virus-free status of Tonga.