Pacific tsunami threat recedes, volcanic ash impedes response – Boston News, Weather, Sports

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) – The tsunami threat around the Pacific Ocean from a massive undersea volcanic eruption began to recede on Sunday, but a huge cloud of ash blanketed the tiny island nation Tonga prevented surveillance flights from New Zealand to assess the extent of the damage.

Satellite images show spectacular eruption took place on Saturday night, with a plume of ash, steam and gas rising like mushrooms over the clear blue Pacific Ocean. An explosive sound could be heard as far as Alaska.

In Tonga, the tsunami hit the shore and people rushed to higher ground.

The eruption cut off the internet in Tonga, leaving anxious friends and family members around the world trying to get in touch to find out if there were any injuries. Even government websites and other official sources were still without updates on Sunday afternoon.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said there had not yet been any official reports of injuries or deaths in Tonga, but warned that authorities were still not in contact with some coastal areas and coastal areas. smaller island.

“Communication with Tonga is still very limited. And I know that is causing a lot of anxiety in the Tongan community here,” Ardern said.

She said there has been significant damage to boats and shops along the Tongan coast. The capital, Nuku’alofa, is covered in a dense film of volcanic dust, which contaminates water supplies and makes fresh water a necessity, Ardern said.

Aid agencies say thick ash and smoke have prompted authorities to ask people to wear masks and drink bottled water.

Ardern said New Zealand was unable to send a surveillance flight over Tonga on Sunday because of the ash cloud 63,000 feet (19,000 meters) high but it hopes to try again on Monday, followed by refueling aircraft and Navy ships.

A complicating factor for any international aid effort is that Tonga has so far managed to avoid any COVID-19 outbreaks. Ardern said New Zealand’s military personnel are all fully vaccinated and ready to follow any protocol established by Tonga.

Dave Snider, tsunami warning coordinator for the National Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, Alaska, said it was very unusual for a volcanic eruption to affect an entire ocean basin and the scene was just ” horrifying and terrifying”.

The tsunami caused damage to boats as far away as New Zealand and Santa Cruz, California, but did not appear to have caused widespread damage. Snider said he expected the tsunami situation in the US and elsewhere to continue to improve.

Tsunami advisories have previously been issued for Japan, Hawaii, Alaska and the Pacific coast of the United States. The United States Geological Survey estimated the eruption caused the equivalent of a 5.8 magnitude earthquake. Tsunamis caused by volcanoes, not earthquakes, are relatively rare, scientists say.

Rachel Afeaki-Taumoepeau, president of New Zealand’s Tongan Business Council, said she hoped the relatively low level of the tsunami would allow most people to arrive safely, although she was worried about those living. on the islands closest to the volcano. She said she is still unable to contact her friends and family in Tonga.

“We are praying that the damage is only to the infrastructure and that people can get to higher ground,” she said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote on Twitter that he was “deeply concerned for the people of Tonga as they recover from the aftermath of a volcanic eruption and tsunami. The United States stands ready to assist our Pacific neighbors. “

Tonga connects to the Internet via an underground cable from Suva, Fiji. Doug Madory, director of internet analytics at cyber-intelligence firm Kentik, said all internet connections to Tonga were lost around 6:40 p.m. local time on Saturday.

In Tonga, home to about 105,000 people, video posted on social media showed large waves washing up on the shore and slamming into houses, a church and other buildings. One Twitter user identified as Dr Faka’iloatonga Taumoefolau post a video showing the waves crashing on the shore.

“Can literally hear the eruption of the volcano, which sounds pretty intense,” he wrote, adding in a later post: “Rain of ash and small pebbles, darkness whitened the sky.”

The eruption of the Hunga Tonga volcano Hunga Ha’apai, about 64 km (40 mi) north of Nuku’alofa, was the latest in a series of dramatic eruptions. In late 2014 and early 2015, eruptions created a new islet and disrupted international air travel to the Pacific Islands for several days.

Earth imaging company Planet Labs PBC has been monitoring the island in recent days after a new volcanic vent began erupting in late December. Satellite photos show the volcano has shaped the area. how powerful the area is, creating a growing island off the coast of Tonga.

“The island’s surface area appears to have expanded by almost 45 percent due to the ash,” Planet Labs said a few days before the latest operation.

Following Saturday’s eruption, people in Hawaii, Alaska and along the US Pacific coast were advised to move away from the coastline to higher ground.

Savannah Peterson watched in awe as the water rose several feet in just minutes in front of her beachfront home in Pacifica, California, just south of San Francisco.

“It came on so quickly, and a few minutes later it started working again. She said. “I’ve never had water reach my front door, and today it did.”

Police have rescued a surfer who broke in strong waves off the coast of San Francisco. In Southern California, rising waters sank at least one boat in Ventura Harbor northwest of Los Angeles.

(Copyright (c) 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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James Brien

James Brien is a 24ssports U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. James Brien joined 24ssports in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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