6.2-magnitude earthquake strikes near Tonga less than 2 weeks after volcanic eruption

Nomuka, Tonga, is seen on Jan. 17 after the eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai underwater volcano. Photo via New Zealand Defense Force/UPI

Jan. 27 (UPI) — Less than two weeks after an underwater volcano explosion cut off communications on the island of Tonga, a powerful 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of the Pacific island on Thursday.

The quake hit about 135 miles northwest of Pangai, Tonga, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, at a depth of 9 miles.

There were no reports of injuries or damage to any of the populated islands that make up the Tonga region.

The seismic activity came 12 days after the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano erupted and produced a tsunami that caused widespread damage in Tonga and minor effects as far away as the U.S. West Coast.

Several countries, including Australia, New Zealand and Japan, have since given aid to Tonga — such as clean drinking water. Three deaths have been blamed on the eruption and the tsunami that hit the islands.

Repairs to underwater fiber optic cables that were severed during the eruption may not be fixed until next month, officials have said, leaving much of the islands without a way of communicating with the rest of the world.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-days has sent relief supplies to the island nation, 63% of whose population are church members.

“Sainthood donations of water, face masks, satellite phones and other emergency items left on an Air New Zealand flight this morning bound for Tonga,” the church said Wednesday in an online statement.

“Church facilities on Tongatapu and Vava’u are undamaged except for a boundary fence at Kanokupolu. Work is being done to clean the facilities and grounds which are heavily coated with volcanic ash,” the statement said.


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