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Graphic shows the shape of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai island before and after the Jan 15 eruption, and a comparison between the Hiroshima bomb and powerful volcanic eruptions.


Tonga eruption equivalent to hundreds of Hiroshimas

By Jordi Bou

January 24, 2022 - The volcanic eruption in Tonga was hundreds of times more powerful than the Hiroshima atomic bomb, NASA says.

Tonga’s eruption unleashed explosive forces equivalent to up to 30 million tonnes of TNT – hundreds of times more than Hiroshima's atomic bomb, NASA says.

As a comparison, the U.S. atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in August 1945 was estimated to be about 15 kilotons (15,000 tonnes) of TNT.

Mount St. Helens exploded in 1980 with 24 megatons and Krakatoa burst in 1883 with 200 megatons of energy.

Before the eruption, the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcanic island was two separate islands joined by new land formed in 2015.

Nasa says the eruption was so powerful all the new land is gone, along with "large chunks" of the two older islands.

Tonga says more than four-fifths of the population has been affected by the tsunami and falling ash. Three people were confirmed killed in the tsunami last week.

PUBLISHED: 24/01/2022; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: NASA