On January 15th, 2022, the country of Tonga was shaken up by the Hunga Tonga, an underwater volcano erupted and disrupted the entire country. A volcano, with a force equal to 500 Hiroshima nuclear bombs, has filled the sky with a sulfuric cloud compromising the natural resources in Tonga. With a population of 100,000 citizens, a small oceanic country is facing the dreadful repercussion of this natural disaster.
3 deaths in Tonga and 2 deaths from abnormally high waves off the coast of Peru, the repercussions are being felt by the entire world. The eruption of Honga Tonga not only disrupted the oceanic continent, but the after-effects triggered high waves and tsunami warnings across the Pacific Ocean. Japan, Hawaii, and other Pacific islands were threatened with tsunami warnings following the eruption. Those warnings were lifted after several days.
Tonga is suffering the consequences in regards to its communication abilities, business operations, and the welfare of its citizens. Its underwater fiber-optic cable that connects Tonga to the outside world was severed leaving Tonga in complete darkness. With no connection to the outside world, Australia and New Zealand has offered relief efforts sending the military with resources to help them survive the next weeks. However, it has been revealed those military ships were contaminated with positive COVID-19 outbreaks. Tonga has been one of the few countries to avoid COVID-19 with only one case throughout the pandemic, the need for aid may spread COVID-19 to Tonga’s population.
With approximately 86% of Tonga’s population engaged in agriculture and fisheries, their business may be halted for an extreme period of time. The biggest concern is the falling ash that may contaminate the fisheries and land use. One company facing this issue is the Alatini Fisheries Company, which works just off the coast of Tonga. Additionally, with the internet inoperative the businesses in Tonga will have a hard time trying to continue their daily operations. The state-owned business, Tonga Cable, is facing pressure to quickly and efficiently fix the cable. The Tonga cable company expects the cable to be fixed in the near future with a ship setting out to reach the severed cable on February 1, 2022, but with the threat of volcanic activity still present the ship will face tough challenges. Hopefully, this will start to connect Tonga back to other countries and they can receive help to continue industries, like fishing and agriculture, very soon.