A number of flights around Oceania were forced to land and be redirected after a large ash plume began billowing from an underwater volcano in Tonga.
A large underwater volcano in Tonga has caused severe disruption for aviation in and around the region of Oceania. Numerous flights, from New Zealand and Australia, were forced to land or be redirected as the volcano’s ash plume billowed out of the ocean.
According to the Wellington Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai underwater volcano, about 65km north of the capital Nuku’alofa, was sending volcanic ash up to 4,500m into the air.
Tonga residents described a spectacular sight, with the enormous plume from the volcano shooting high into the sky and a muddy discharge underwater turning areas of the sea off the island blood red.
“I feel it is healthily letting off steam but it is growing … the base has doubled in size since 24 December when we first saw it again. And it’s getting higher,” resident Chris Egan told local press.
The eruption and ash plume has caused several carriers to suspend air travel to the South Pacific island nation.