24 Jan 2024

Freak waves slams into Marshall Islands US Army base

From , 6:02 am on 24 January 2024
Roi-Namur wave video Screenshot doors gone, water rushing in 1-20-2024 Screenshot 443

Roi-Namur wave video Screenshot doors gone, water rushing in on 20 January 2024. Photo: Screenshot / Roi-Namur wave video

Powerful ocean waves, driven by offshore storm surges, hit an important US military installation in the Marshall Islands on Saturday night, causing damage and resulting in the evacuation of all "non-mission personnel" from the island. 

Flooding caused by the waves also hit two airports at Ailinglaplap Atoll, leaving rocks, coral and debris in their wake, which is likely to keep those airports closed for weeks.

Other islands also reported flooding and moderate damage.

The US Army in a statement on Sunday afternoon said that at approximately 9pm on January 20, "a series of weather-induced waves hit Roi-Namur which caused significant flooding in the northern portions of the island".

Roi-Namur houses the US Army's most sophisticated space-tracking equipment as part of the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Test Site.

RNZ Pacific Editor Koroi Hawkins spoke with Marshall Islands correspondent Giff Johnson about the incident.