Volcanic eruption in the Tonga Islands: a hundred times more powerful than Hiroshima

Laure Dautriche edited by Wassila Belhacine
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5:19 p.m., January 25, 2022

The January 15 eruption in the Tonga Islands, heard as far away as Alaska 9,000 kilometers away, exceeded the power of the Hiroshima bomb. The natural disaster caused a lot of environmental damage.

The force of the January 15 volcanic eruption in the Tonga Islands, state of Polynesia, exceeded the power of the Hiroshima atomic bomb. That’s the conclusion of NASA scientists who said the eruption was several hundred times more powerful than the US atomic bomb dropped on the Japanese city on August 6, 1945, estimated to be around 15,000 tons. The volcanic eruption in the Tonga Islands amounts to 30 million tonnes, according to NASA. The power of the volcanic eruption was heard as far away as Alaska, 9000 kilometers from the Tonga Islands.

Two destroyed villages

The eruption caused a tsunami which affected more than 80% of the approximately 100,000 inhabitants of the archipelago. The damage is innumerable: layers of toxic ash cover the island, drinking water is now poisoned, agricultural crops have been destroyed and two villages have been completely wiped out. The extent of the disaster is still uncertain, communications with the archipelago still being interrupted.

A state of environmental emergency has been declared

The volcanic eruption also caused thousands of barrels of oil to spill into the sea. This oil spill now continues to spread across the waters. To respond to the crisis caused by the volcanic eruption, a state of environmental emergency was declared.

Requested under the Franz cooperation agreement (France-Australia-New Zealand), France chartered the patrol boat on Monday The Glorious, based in New Caledonia, to transport 10 tonnes of humanitarian cargo to the archipelago. At the request of the Tongan government, a Falcon Guardian maritime surveillance aircraft will also carry out a reconnaissance flight over the islands which remain isolated on Tuesday.

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