May 14, 2022

The first images of the Tonga archipelago, devastated after a volcanic eruption and a tsunami

While several areas of the archipelago have been relatively preserved, others have suffered significant damage and remain cut off from the world.

The damage is considerable on the Tonga Islands. Days after an underwater volcano erupted that caused a tsunami across the Pacific and cut off the archipelago from the rest of the world, impressive photographs taken by the New Zealand Defense Force show, according to The Guardian, that some island regions suffered “catastrophic” devastation, while others were relatively spared.

In these forty images, landscapes covered in ash are visible, as well as buildings badly damaged by the natural disaster. These pictures were taken during a reconnaissance flight last Monday and compiled in a report for the Tongan government.

Satellite images released Tuesday by Maxar Technologies also show a large expanse of water where much of the volcano rose above the sea before the eruption.

It is in particular the islands of Atata and Mango which seem to be the most affected, underlines the British daily. Several buildings are missing or badly damaged by the floods, while dozens of trees have been uprooted.

Images show devastated Tonga after eruption and tsunami
Images show the devastated Tonga Islands after an eruption and tsunami © Cris BOURONCLE / AFP

Contact difficult

The information remains fragmented, three days after the eruption, on the extent of the damage in this country cut off from the world after the rupture of the cable connecting it to the Internet network.

The local police, quoted by the New Zealand authorities, reported two deaths, including a 50-year-old Briton, Angela Glover, swept away by the tsunami after trying to save the dogs from her shelter, according to her family.

Satellite images released by Maxar Technologies on Tuesday also show a large expanse of water right where much of the volcano rose above the sea before the eruption. Only two relatively small volcanic islands remain emerged.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement on Tuesday that its liaison officer in Tonga, Dr Yutaro Setoya, is responsible for communication between UN agencies and the local government.

“With international phone lines and internet connection still down, Dr Setoya’s satellite phone is one of the few ways to get information,” according to the WHO.

The manager “has literally been standing outside from dawn until late at night for the past few days to make sure the phone can get the satellite signal,” said Sean Casey, WHO health coordinator. for the Pacific.

The WHO added that around 100 homes were damaged, including 50 destroyed on Tonga’s main island, Tongatapu.