An undersea volcano that erupted in Tonga, triggering a 7.4 magnitude earthquake, was so large it was visible from space and sent tsunami waves crashing into the coast of the Pacific island, and left it covered in ash and cut off from aid.
In the US, waves of up to 4.1 feet were recorded in Port San Luis on Saturday, and tsunami-effect waves were recorded along the coast in California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska.
Satellite images showed the spectacular eruption from space and despite the dire warnings, spectators flocked to the beaches to view the surging tsunami waves, while surfers threw caution to the wind to catch the powerful waves generated by the surge.
Tsunami-hit Tonga remained largely uncontactable on Sunday with telephone and internet links severed, leaving relatives in faraway New Zealand praying for their families on the Pacific islands as casualty reports had yet to come through.
The massive ash cloud covering the tiny island nation of Tonga is preventing surveillance flights from New Zealand to assess the extent of damage.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the eruption was ‘hugely concerning’ and agencies were still trying to establish full communications with Tonga.
One complicating factor to any international aid effort is that Tonga has so far managed to avoid any outbreaks of Covid-19.
Ms Ardern said New Zealand’s military staff were all fully vaccinated and willing to follow any protocols established by Tonga.
The immediate concern in Tonga is for air and water safety due to ash and smoke. The government has asked the public to wear masks and use bottled water for now.
Tsunami advisories were issued for Hawaii, Alaska and the U.S. Pacific coast. Hundreds of thousands of Japanese citizens were also advised to evacuate as waves of more than a metre hit coastal areas.
The U.S. Geological Survey estimated the eruption caused the equivalent of magnitude 5.8 earthquake. Scientists said tsunamis generated by volcanoes rather than earthquakes are relatively rare.
The powerful waves registered in Japan, New Zealand and Australia, with a thunderous roar heard 6,000 miles away in Alaska.
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Source: Daily Mail