India announces assistance of Rs. 1.5 crore to tsunami-hit Tonga
India on Tuesday announced an immediate assistance of $2,00,000 (Rs. 1.49 crores) for rehabilitation, reconstruction, and relief efforts in Tonga. Tonga was notably struck by a catastrophic volcanic eruption and a subsequent tsunami on January 15. The eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai volcano was heard 2,300 kilometers away in New Zealand and sent tsunami waves across the Pacific Ocean.
- The tsunami was one of the world's deadliest natural disasters, affecting massive parts of Tonga's population and wreaking havoc on the country's infrastructure.
- As per US space agency NASA, the eruption was more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima by the United States during World War II.
- The death toll from the natural disaster has grown to six, the country's authorities said.
"As a close friend and partner under the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) and as a gesture of solidarity with the friendly people of Tonga, Government of India extends an immediate relief assistance of US$2,00,000 to support relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in the Kingdom of Tonga," said the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in a statement.
"India has firmly stood by Tonga during times of crisis and devastation caused by natural disasters, as during Cyclone Gita in 2018," the MEA statement read. Expressing its deepest condolences to the country, it added that disaster risk management and reduction is an essential component of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Indo-Pacific Oceans' Initiative (IPOI), which was announced in November 2019.
The Tongan prime minister's office reported that all houses on Mango Island had been destroyed, while only two structures were intact on Fonoifua Island. There was also significant damage on Nomuka Island, it added. Over 100,000 people reside in Tonga, which is made up of more than 30 archipelagos. Japan, Australia, and New Zealand also rushed to help the country.
Earlier, NASA's Earth Observatory said the volcano ejected debris up to 40 kilometers into the atmosphere, causing massive tsunami waves. "We think the amount of energy released by the eruption was equivalent to somewhere between five to 30 megatons of TNT," NASA scientist Jim Garvin said. The eruption was hundreds of times more powerful than the atomic bomb unleashed on Hiroshima, Japan, said NASA.
The pulse traveled for several minutes over Europe, India, and other parts of the world. "The expansion of the wave front from the Tonga eruption was a particularly spectacular example of the phenomenon of global propagation of atmospheric waves," Kevin Hamilton—a researcher at the University of Hawaii—wrote in The Conversation. He said the eruption caused the atmosphere to ring like a bell.
The volcano created pressure waves in the atmosphere, which swiftly propagated over the globe. Thousands of kilometers away, the atmospheric wave pattern appeared as an isolated wave front moving horizontally at almost 650 mph as it extended outward, Hamilton wrote. Garvin said that from satellites having infrared censors above, the wave appeared like a ripple created by tossing a stone in a pond.