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Tonga tsunami: Before and after eruption

Image source, NZDF

The massive volcanic eruption and tsunami in Tonga has caused catastrophic damage, with homes destroyed and many communities covered in a thick layer of ash.

The Tongan government says the country has been hit by an “unprecedented disaster”.

Communications with Tonga have been severely disrupted.

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Satellite images and aerial photographs show the scale of the destruction.

The single undersea cable connecting Tonga to the outside world was severed in the eruption.

The port in the capital, Nuku’alofa on the main island of Tongatapu, has been severely damaged, with many buildings near the waterfront completely flattened.

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It is thought they were destroyed by the tsunami wave when it hit the island, shortly after the eruption on nearby Hunga-Tonga Hunga-Ha’apai.

Despite the damage on the waterfront at Nukuʻalofa, inland areas are reported to be largely undamaged.

The UN reported extensive damage to property on the western beaches of Tongatapu.

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Waves of up to 15 metres hit the area on Saturday.

Reports from the area say 56 houses were completely or seriously damaged, and that the residents have been moved to evacuation centres.

There is also growing concern for residents of smaller, low-lying islands to the north of Tongatapu.

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The authorities in Tonga say all the homes on one island, where around 50 people live, have been destroyed, while on another only two houses remain. Other islands, they say, have sustained extensive damage.

The main airport for the islands, Fua’amotu International Airport, was not damaged, but piles of ash are hindering operations and international aid efforts. Volunteers have been sweeping the runway of the main airport to allow planes to land.

Australia has said the ash must be cleared before it can land a C-130 military plane carrying supplies.

Fua'amotu International Airport

Image source, MAXAR

New Zealand is sending two ships, HMNZS Wellington and HMNZS Aotearoa, to the area with water supplies, survey teams and a helicopter.

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