The Tonga eruption continues to make international headlines as the breadth of its destruction remains unknown. More than a week following the devastating volcanic explosion, communication to and throughout the islands is still not back to normal. Now, Peruvian beaches are seeing mass pollution from a resultant oil spill. Villages across the Tongan islands saw complete demolition. Now, NASA has stated the eruption compares to the explosion of millions of tons of TNT.
According to CBS News, NASA scientists have stated the Tonga eruption has actually dwarfed the sheer power released by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima during WWII.
Scientist Jim Garvin said in a press release, “We think the amount of energy released by the eruption was equivalent to somewhere between five to 30 million tons of TNT.”
Comparatively, the United States’ atomic bomb is estimated to measure up to just 15,000 tons of the same devastating explosive.
Additionally, NASA stated the volcanic eruption completely “obliterated” the island, which is located 41 miles north of Tonga’s capital, Nuku’alofa. The sheer power of the eruption sent debris soaring 25 miles upwards into Earth’s atmosphere. It triggered threatening tsunami waves and resulted in shockwaves felt across the globe.
Tonga Eruption Wreaks Havoc On Island Residents’ Health
Speaking of, Nuku’alofa-based journalist Mary Lyn Fonua remains on the ground near the sights of destruction. She shared with media the impact the Tonga eruption has had on island residents.
“It’s so beyond what anyone here has ever experienced,” she said. “The shockwave from the eruption just messed up our brains, we’re just starting to return to normal now.”
The journalist also revealed the natural destruction apparent on the island following the Tonga eruption. Fonua shared that a grey grime has coated literally everything on the island following the eruption. Officials have begun to worry about the long-term effects of the resultant debris and ash. The grime has already proven difficult to live with.
“It gets everywhere,” Fonua said. “It irritates your eyes, you get sores in the corner of your mouth, everyone has blackened fingernails – we look like a grubby lot.”
Among other rescue efforts, clean water remains a top concern, with several nations rushing to send relief and aid supplies.
Volcanic Explosion Results in Mass Pollution
So far, we’ve touched on the immediate effects of the Tonga eruption, from its massive shockwaves, tsunami threats, and mass amounts of ash.
However, along the coast of Peru, specifically near the South American country’s capital of Lima, marine life faces critical danger. As per the Associated Press, Peru declared an environmental emergency on Thursday, January 20th, as a total of 21 beaches along the Pacific coast became contaminated with slick, black oil as tsunami waves resulted in a spill originating from an Italian-flagged ship.
Environmentalists throughout the country have headed to the beaches to begin cleanup efforts. For now, citizens are restricted from heading to beaches as the spill from the Tonga eruption presents major health concerns. Meanwhile, fishermen near the site of the spill have been enlisted to deliver food baskets to those folks affected by the Tonga eruption.