Tonga’s consulate in the European Union (EU) has disclosed pictures that show the damage dealt by tsunami waves triggered by the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai undersea volcano eruption on Saturday, January 15. The released images depict volcanic ash blanketing the Pacific islands, including cars, roads, and buildings in the capital Nuku’alofa. They also show debris across the shoreline on the coastal areas on the islands in the aftermath of the disaster. Meanwhile, aerial photographs captured by the New Zealand Air Force reveal that some villages on yet-to-be-reached islands have been wiped out. Reports say that international phone lines have been restored, but repairing a destroyed underwater cable might take weeks. As of now, Tonga is largely cut off from the rest of the world, with little known information on the extent of the damage.

According to a news report agency, efforts to clear heavy ash from Tonga’s major airport runway ended on Wednesday, January 19, after rescue personnel and hundreds of volunteers worked tirelessly to sweep dust off the tarmac with wheelbarrows and shovels. The tsunami had recorded waves of 1.2 meters (about 4 feet) around Nuku’alofa City, flooding coastal roads and properties. Tsunami warnings were issued in Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu, some portions of New Zealand, Japan, Peru, the United States, and Canada (British Columbia). Experts believe that the eruption of an underwater volcano near Tonga was likely the largest recorded in more than 30 years anywhere on the planet.