The power of the eruption in Tonga greater than hundreds of Hiroshima, according to Nasa
Eva Deschamps / January 24, 2022
The force of the volcanic eruption in the Tonga Islands on Jan. 15 exceeded the power of the Hiroshima atomic bomb, NASA scientists said, while survivors of the disaster described Monday a shock that rattled their brains.
According to NASA's Earth Observatory, the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano spewed a mushroom cloud of smoke up to 40 kilometers high during the eruption that was heard as far away as Alaska, more than 9,000 kilometers away, and triggered a tsunami.
Nasa said the eruption was several hundred times more powerful than the U.S. atomic bomb dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima in August 1945, whose power was estimated at about 15 kilotons (15,000 tons) of TNT.
We believe that the amount of energy released by the eruption was equivalent to between 5 and 30 megatons (5 to 30 million tons) of TNT, Nasa scientist Jim Garvin said in the publication released Sunday night.
The agency said the eruption had wiped out the volcanic island located about 65 kilometers north of Nuku'alofa, the capital of Tonga.
It covered the island kingdom of about 100,000 inhabitants with a layer of toxic ash, poisoning drinking water, destroying agricultural crops and completely wiping out at least two villages.
It also killed at least three people in Tonga and led to the drowning of two bathers in Peru whose coasts were hit by exceptional waves because of the eruption.
An environmental emergency of 90 days was announced by the Peruvian authorities for the coastal zone damaged by the spill of 6.000 barrels of crude oil a week ago, an oil spill which continues to spread and despairs the inhabitants.
In Tonga, the extent of the damage remains uncertain as communications are still interrupted.
Japanese, New Zealand and Australian defense forces have begun delivering emergency relief supplies, including water, while maintaining strict protocols against Covid-19 to keep the archipelago free of the pandemic.