Tonga volcano causes ‘significant’ damage but no deaths: Ardern
WELLINGTON, – Parts of the Tongan capital Nuku’alofa suffered “significant” damage in the powerful volcanic eruption but there have been no reports of injury or deaths, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Sunday.
Communications with the Pacific island have been cut since Saturday’s eruption damaged the undersea cable but Ardern said her government had made contact with the New Zealand High Commission in the Tongan capital. “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.
“Nuku’alofa is covered in a thick film of volcanic dust but otherwise conditions are calm and stable.” However, there has been no word on damage in Tonga’s outer islands with New Zealand set to send an air force reconnaissance aircraft to fly over the region on Monday if the volcanic ash cloud permits.
Dramatic satellite images showed the long, rumbling eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano spew smoke and ash in the air, with a thunderous roar heard as far as 10,000 kilometres (6,000 miles) away in Alaska. It triggered a tsunami that flooded Pacific coastlines from Japan to the United States. Ardern said there was “no ongoing large eruption” and ash had stopped falling, but further volcanic activity could not be ruled out.