Tonga possessed a single optic-fiber link to the internet, which the volcanic eruption severed on January 15. Since then, only limited internet connectivity has been possible. However, Musk’s Starlink system aims to help the island nation recover. Fiji Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum announced the endeavor on Twitter yesterday.
“The Hunga Tonga volcano’s shockwave shattered Tonga’s internet connection, adding days of gut-wrenching uncertainty to disaster assessments. A @SpaceX team is now in Fiji establishing a Starlink Gateway station to reconnect Tonga to the world. Great initiative, @elonmusk!” the tweet reads.
The exact timeline is currently unknown, but the Fijian Broadcasting Corporation stated engineers would operate a ground station in Fiji for six months. SpaceX has also not immediately responded for a comment on the matter.
Musk took to Twitter himself last month and mentioned the possibility of Starlink assisting and it seems to have come to fruition. For those who don’t know. the Starlink system has SpaceX sending thousands of satellites into orbit. Doing so helps those in more remote locations have access to stable, fast internet.
The Huna Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano eruption triggered a huge tsunami that destroyed resorts and villages. Additionally, it covered the nation’s capital of roughly 105,000 people in ash, the New York Post reported.
Considering Tonga has already had heavy COVID-related problems, hopefully, their connectivity issues are fixed soon.
NASA Reports the Tonga Eruption was the Equivalent of ‘Somewhere Between Five to 30 Million Tons of TNT’
Even today, the Tonga eruption continues to make headlines. Though we knew it was sizable, NASA scientists later reported its destructive power was “somewhere between five to 30 million tons of TNT.”
CBS News shared the news, saying NASA’s experts also state it eclipsed the power of the Hiroshima atomic bomb. To be specific, it was over hundreds of times stronger. The NASA Earth observatory also said the volcano spat debris as high as 25 miles into the atmosphere. This is what triggered the giant tsunami waves mentioned earlier.
Nuku’alofa-based journalist Mary Lyn Fonua talked to various news outlets about what the locals there experienced. “It’s so beyond what anyone here has ever experienced,” she stated. “The shockwave from the eruption just messed up our brains, we’re just starting to return to normal now.”
Further, the grime and ash made things even more difficult, raising health concerns. “It gets everywhere,” she said. “It irritates your eyes, you get sores in the corner of your mouth, everyone has blackened fingernails — we look like a grubby lot. We need a good tropical deluge to wash everything away.”