Distress signal detected on Tonga islands after volcanic eruption

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Distress signal detected on Tonga islands after volcanic eruption

A distress signal has been detected near an isolated, low-lying group of islands in Tonga in the wake of the massive volcanic eruption and tsunami, the United Nations said Monday.

The active distress beacon was picked up near the two islands of Fonoi and Mango in Tonga’s Ha’apai region.

There has been no contact from the Ha’apai group of islands since the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano erupted on Saturday, causing a huge tsunami.

The distress signal has sparked “particular concern” for the inhabitants of the two islands, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

According to the Tonga government, 36 people live on the island of Mango and 69 on Fonoi.

Initial reports indicated there were no mass casualties from the undersea volcanic eruption and tsunami — even though the capital, Nuku’alofa, and properties along the island’s western beaches were badly damaged.

An eruption occurs at the underwater volcano Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai off Tonga, January 14, 2022 in this screen grab obtained from a social media video.
A cloud of smoke and ash takes over the sky after the eruption of the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano.
via REUTERS
A Royal New Zealand Air Force Orion aircraft prepares to leave Base Auckland for Tonga to assist in an initial impact assessment of the area and low-lying islands after the Pacific island nation was hit by a tsunami triggered by a massive undersea volcanic eruption January 17, 2022.
Australian authorities have reported damaged houses from the giant volcanic eruption.
via REUTERS

Formal assessments, especially of the outer islands, haven’t yet been made public because Tonga’s communication lines were badly damaged as a result of the natural disaster.

Australia and New Zealand sent surveillance flights Monday to assess the damage.

Australia’s Minister for the Pacific Zed Seselja said early Monday that authorities had visited beaches and reported significant damage with “houses thrown around.”

A Royal Australian aircraft leaves in Amberley, Australia to assess the volcanic eruption near Tonga on Jan. 17, 2022.
A Royal Australian aircraft leaves from Amberley, Australia, to assess the volcanic eruption near Tonga on Jan. 17, 2022.
REUTERS
A satellite image shows a plume arising from the underwater volcano Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai.
A satellite image shows a plume arising from the underwater volcano Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai.
via REUTERS

The Red Cross was mobilizing to help with what it described as the worst volcanic eruption the Pacific has experienced in decades.

The impact of the volcanic eruption was felt as far away as Fiji, New Zealand, the US and Japan.

With Post wires

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