The first satellite images of the Pacific island nation of Tonga reveal the extent of the horrific damage after a volcanic eruption and tsunami on Saturday.
Satellite images shared by Maxar Technologies Tuesday show the tiny island nation is smothered in volcanic ash, and building structures were destroyed after a tsunami.
On Monday, we noted that all communication with the outside world had been severed for the next two weeks. The crux of the problem is a badly damaged undersea communications cable between Tonga and Fiji.
The first satellite image shows the island’s main port in Nuku’alofa, Tonga’s capital, covered in ash and damaged from the tsunami.
Tonga’s volcanic eruption appears to have damaged the island’s international airport. There’s water invasion evidence that may suggest runways are destroyed.
One coastal village appears to have damaged building structures and roadways.
An Australian Defence Force P-8A Poseidon patrol aircraft conducted a closer aerial observation on Monday, showing the ash-covered coastal area is completely devastated.
The damage so far suggests Tonga is in desperate need of humanitarian aid.
Alexander Matheou, director of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, told CNN there is “large-scale coastal damage as a result of the tsunami wave.”
“We are concerned especially for those low-lying islands close to the eruption itself,” he added. “At the moment, we know very little.”
While it could take weeks for communications to be restored on the island with the rest of the world, there is a radio blackout, and the true extent of the damage on the ground won’t be known for weeks.