New imagery from a surveillance aircraft sent to Tonga by the New Zealand Defence Force on January 17 shows the small island of Nomuka covered in ash after a colossal underwater volcanic eruption on Saturday.
The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano erupted on Saturday evening, triggering tsunami alerts across several South Pacific islands, Australia’s east coast, New Zealand, the US and Japan.
According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, a 1.2-metre tsunami wave was observed at Nuku Alofa in Tonga at 5.30 pm local time on Saturday. Data from the bureau suggested the shockwave from the eruption travelled at over 1000 km per hour.
Other satellite imagery released by the UN shows the impact of the eruption to the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano itself.
Communication lines were severed during the eruption, according to reports, making it difficult to gauge the damage caused by the eruption and subsequent tsunami.
New Zealand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nanaia Mahuta said the Nuku’alofa airport runway was covered in ash and that it must be cleared for humanitarian assistance to land. Two Royal New Zealand Navy ships were set to depart New Zealand on Tuesday. Credit: New Zealand Defence Force via Storyful