Pacific tsunami threat recedes, volcano ash hinders response

    Ash RGB imagery showing the eruption using infrared channels to detect volcanic ash and sulfur dioxide gas. (Photo Credit: NOAA.)

    WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — The tsunami threat around the Pacific from a huge undersea volcanic eruption has receded but the massive ash cloud covering the tiny island nation of Tonga is preventing surveillance flights from New Zealand to assess the extent of damage.

    The eruption on Saturday sent tsunami waves swirling around buildings and people rushing to higher ground.

    The explosion cut the internet to Tonga, leaving friends and family members around the world anxiously trying to get in touch.

    Even government websites and other official sources remained without updates on Sunday afternoon.

    New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says there's not been any official reports of injuries or deaths in Tonga but authorities haven't yet made contact with some coastal areas and smaller islands.

    Above - On Jan. 13, 2022, NOAA’s GOES West satellite captured another explosive eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano, located in the South Pacific Kingdom of Tonga. Below - The Himawari-8 satellite, operated by the Japan Meteorological Agency, also captured this GeoColor imagery of the eruption as the sun rose over the region.

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