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After Saturday's massive undersea volcanic eruption and tsunami, a distress signal was detected in a low-lying group of islands in the Tonga archipelago, which has awakened the United Nation's concerns for its inhabitants.
Saturday's massive undersea volcanic eruption and tsunami awakened the U.N.'s concerns after a distress signal emerged in a low-lying group of islands in the Tonga archipelago.
Previous reports indicated no mass casualties on the main island of Tongatapu. Still, two people were reported as missing, and the capital Nuku'alofa was severely damaged, as resorts and homes along the island's western beaches were also compromised.
On Monday, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) launched an update of the islands' situation, which stated that "further volcanic activity cannot be ruled out." Ha reported only minor injuries but emphasized that formal assessments, especially of the outer islands, had yet to be released with communications badly hit.
The satellite images from around 12 hours later have shown that the uninhabited volcanic island of Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai nearly disappeared after the blast. Blanketed ash covered the Pacific archipelago, and volcanic ash clouds spread to countries thousands of kilometers to the west. The OCHA disclosed that they hadn't contacted the Ha'apai group of islands and its "particular concern" about two small low-lying islands (Fonoi and Mango) where the active distress beacon was registered. The Tonga government reported 36 people live on Mango and 69 on Fonoi.
#Tonga UPDATE: >Tonga Cable Ltd connects Tonga to the outside world via Fiji >The cable appeared to have been severed about 10-15 minutes after the eruption >The cable lies atop and within coral reef w/possible multiple breaks -- early estimates 3 weeks to fix >Sat phone �� pic.twitter.com/VGEYGbEoX2
According to the experts, the volcano which last erupted in 2014 was puffing away a month before rising magma. The scientist said that the unusual "astounding" speed and force of the eruption pointed to a greater force at the moment than simply magma meeting water.
Fiji, New Zealand, the United States, and Japan felt the impact caused by the eruption. Peru reported two people drowned off a beach in northern Peru due to the high waves caused by the tsunami.
Curtis Tu'ihalangingie, Tonga's deputy head of mission in Australia, noted Tonga's government was concerned about the risk that aid deliveries represent at spreading COVID-19 to the island, which is COVID-free. "We don't want to bring in another wave - a tsunami of COVID-19," Tu'ihalangingie said to Reuters.