26 May 2022

People forced to move within Tonga following volcano and tsunami

1:40 pm on 26 May 2022

People living in the areas badly affected by the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcanic disaster are relocating to other islands in Tonga.

Three people were killed and hundreds of homes were destroyed after a tsunami was generated by the massive January eruption. All resorts on the western side of Tongatapu were completely wiped out.

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Photo: Supplied / Shane Cronin, University of Auckland

University of Auckland Volcanologist Shane Cronin said there was a resettlement scheme to help people relocate to 'Eua island.

"In places like Ha'apai, some people from the island of Mango, so there's a big resettlement scheme for those people to relocate to the island of 'Eua into high ground and that's the sort of thing that needs to be thought about, other people living in low-lying areas ... what are the other alternatives in the future?"

Meanwhile, small-scale eruptions were expected following the volcanic eruption and tsunami.

Four months on, new scientific evidence was helping to paint a clearer picture of how widespread the damage was and the chances of another eruption, Cronin said.

While there would not be another large-scale event anytime soon, there would be "follow-ups".

"After such a fundamental change and an enormous eruption, we wouldn't expect there to be an ongoing big event but we would expect there to be sort of follow ups or small scale eruptions because there's always a bit of magma left behind and there's always a little bit of residual heat."

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