An underwater volcano erupted in the Pacific Ocean and triggered a 7.4-magnitude earthquake, which sent up to 50ft tsunami waves crashing into the Pacific island nation of Tonga on Saturday. The massive volcanic explosion was apparently visible from space. Scientists are calling the deadly volcanic eruption as 'powerful as 500 nuclear bombs.'
The kingdom of Tonga was cut off from the world due to damage to the internet and telephone lines. As the connection was restored, the first pictures from the island showed the extent of destruction caused by the tsunami as villages were reduced to endless piles of rubbles. According to Daily Mail, the death toll has now been reported to three.
Every house on the Mango island was reportedly destroyed in the tsunami. Images showed villagers of the Kanokupolu village on the island of Tongatapu looking at the ashen remains of their homes.
'500 times more powerful than the nuclear bomb dropped in Hiroshima'
NASA researchers estimated that the power of the explosion was equivalent to '10 megatons of TNT,' which is 500 times more powerful than the nuclear bomb dropped in Hiroshima in 1945.
The chief scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, James Garvin told NPR that the chances of such an explosion occurring again were very feeble for a long time. "If the past precedent for volcanic eruptions in this kind of setting has any meaning at all then we won't have another one of these explosions for a while," he said.
Food and water shortages
The kingdom of Tonga is facing extreme water and food shortages in the aftermath of the massive explosion. Crops and drinking water sources were swamped with saltwater and ash from the volcanic explosion. Tonga's parliamentary speaker added that 'all agriculture' on the islands has been destroyed.
Tongan communities abroad uploaded images giving a glance of the devastation caused by the tsunami as homes, trees, and buildings were reduced to ashes.