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Underwater Volcano

HELPING HANDS A worker stacks disaster-relief supplies sent by New Zealand to help the people of Tonga, on January 17. DILLON ROBERT ANDERSON—NEW ZEALAND DEFENSE FORCE/GETTY IMAGES

An underwater volcano erupted on January 15 near Tonga. The island nation is located in the South Pacific Ocean. The blast sent ash, gas, and soot about 12 miles above the ocean’s surface. It also triggered a tsunami that hit Tonga’s main island. Water levels rose nearly three feet in some areas, but most people were able to escape. On at least three of Tonga’s smaller islands, nearly all homes were destroyed.

At press time, the Tonga government reported three deaths. Officials were still studying the damage. Fatafehi Fakafanua is a political leader in Tonga. According to the New York Times, he said on social media that “Tonga needs immediate assistance to provide its citizens with fresh drinking water and food.”