January 18, 2022, 09.24 PM
A grab taken from footage by Japan's Himawari-8 satellite and released by the National Institute of Information and Communications (Japan) on January 15, 2022 shows the volcanic eruption that provoked a tsunami in Tonga. - The eruption was so intense it was heard as loud thunder sounds in Fiji more than 800 kilometres (500 miles) away. (Photo by Handout / NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS (JAPAN) / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT AFP PHOTO / NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS (JAPAN)  - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS HANDOUTA grab taken from footage by Japan's Himawari-8 satellite and released by the National Institute of Information and Communications (Japan) on January 15, 2022 shows the volcanic eruption that provoked a tsunami in Tonga. - The eruption was so intense it was heard as loud thunder sounds in Fiji more than 800 kilometres (500 miles) away. (Photo by Handout / NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS (JAPAN) / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT AFP PHOTO / NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS (JAPAN) - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

KOMPAS.comAustralia and New Zealand sent military surveillance flights to the isolated Pacific island nation of Tonga Monday, Jan. 17 to assess the damage caused by a strong undersea volcanic eruption Saturday.

The eruption sent a huge cloud of ash over the island and triggered a tsunami that swept over Tonga’s shoreline. Officials in Australia and New Zealand say they have received reports of significant damage to shops and houses along the shoreline from Tongans using satellite phone service.

Saturday’s eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano severely damaged the single undersea fiber-optic cable that provides phone and Internet service to the island. Repairs to the cable could take anywhere from one to three weeks.

Also readFive Indonesian Citizens Remain Unreachable after Tsunami Hits Pacific Island of Tonga

Tongan authorities say the volcanic ash has turned the air toxic and contaminated the island’s fresh drinking water supplies, and are urging residents to wear masks and drink bottled water.

Authorities have also raised concerns about relief workers bringing Covid-19 into the island, which has so far avoided the disease.

The only confirmed apparent casualty in Tonga from Saturday’s disaster is a British woman who was swept out to sea by the tsunami.

The eruption triggered tsunami warnings along much of the western United States coastline. Two people in Peru drowned due to high waves triggered by the tsunami.

Sources: Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France-Presse

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