The body of a British woman missing on the island of Tonga after it was hit by a devastating tsunami has been found, making her the first person known to have died in the disaster sparked by an underwater volcanic eruption.
Angela Glover, 50, an advertising worker from Brighton who met her tattoo artist husband James in London before they moved to Tonga in 2015 at her behest, had been missing since the island was hit by a devastating tsunami on Saturday evening when the nearby Hunga-Tonga volcano exploded.
She was last seen near home in the town of Veitongo by husband James who survived by clinging to a tree. Angela lost her grip and was swept away, before brother Nick Eleini announced the tragic discovery of her body Monday.
Nick, who lives in Australia but has flown to the UK since the disaster to be with his mother, told Sky News that Angela – who ran a dog shelter on Tonga’s largest island of Tongatapu – is thought to have got caught in the wave while trying to save her pets. Four of her dogs were swept away in the tsunami, with only one since found alive.
Just hours before tragedy struck, Angela had uploaded a haunting image to Instragram alongside a message which said: ‘We’ve been under tsunami warnings today, everything’s fine. A few swells, a few eerie silences, a wind or two, then silence, sudden stillness, electric storms….’
The post was uploaded on Friday, after an initial eruption hit the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano on Thursday evening and hours before a devastating second blast late Saturday which triggered the tsunami.
Meanwhile new satellite images revealed the extent of the damage to the Hunga-Tonga volcano and surrounding islands, including Tonga itself where Angela was at the time the wave hit.
The peak of Hunga-Tonga has been almost completely destroyed, with almost none of the volcanic island visible above sea level following the blast.
Meanwhile extensive flood damage is visible in Nuku’alofa, the capital of Toga, with more flood damage visible on the nearby islands of Uoleva, Uiha and Nomuka, along with ash deposits as debris rained from the sky.
Angela and husband James had been walking four of their five adopted dogs (pictured) when the wave hit. James and Angela clung to a tree for safety and while James managed to hold on, Angela was swept away along with the dogs
Angela, (left), is missing from the island of Tonga after it was hit by a tsunami triggered by an underwater volcano eruption. She was last seen near the home she shared with husband James (right) as the wave hit on Saturday
Angela Glover, 50, has been missing since a tsunami smashed into the island of Tonga at the weekend. She uploaded this haunting last image to Instagram just hours earlier, speaking of an ‘eerie silence’
Hunga-Tonga island: A satellite image taken on December 8 (left) shows the peak of the volcano visible above the ocean. A second image taken on January 16 (right) shows how it has been all-but destroyed by the eruption
Tongatapu island: An image taken on February 7 last year (left) shows the Tongan capital of Nuku’alofa before the tsunami struck, compared to an image taken on January 16 (right) which shows lots of water damage from the tsunami
Uoleva island: An image taken in April last year (left) shows a village on one of the smaller islands near the volcano intact, and a second image taken on January 16 (right) shows how it was damaged by the tsunami and blanketed in ash
Uiha island: An image taken in April last year (left) shows the main village on the island before the tsunami, while a second image taken on January 16 (right) shows damage and how the surroundings were covered in ash
Dramatic official aerial maps showed the eruption cloud over Tonga after the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcanco erupted. Pictured: Satellite images of the volanic eruption in the Pacific Ocean on Saturday
Professor Shane Cronin, a Tonga eruptions expert, shared images of the damage with MailOnline, saying: ‘Eruptions over the last month have mainly destroyed new land mass created during 2014-2015 eruptions.
‘The 30 December eruption added to that land mass, the 13 Jan one removed a lot of it, and the 15 Jan one destroyed almost all vestiges of it as well as reduced the size of the pre-existing islands.’
Angela’s brother Nick spoke to New Zealand’s 1News from an airport, as he flies from his home-town of Sydney to the UK so he can support their mother while the family waits for news about Angela.
Describing Angela as ‘a great, fun girl’ who was ‘lovely to be around’, Nick revealed she had worked in advertising in London before moving to Tonga with James in 2015 where she began working for an animal charity. James was a tattoo artist, and owned a studio on the island.
Much of Tonga’s communications network was destroyed in the tsunami, meaning updates from the island have been infrequent. No deaths have yet to be confirmed from the disaster, but that is expected to change once signal has been restored.
The news came as Australia and New Zealand both made efforts to send aid and reconnaissance planes to the region. It remains unclear how many people were killed in the eruption and subsequent flooding.
Former Londoner Angela, who works for an animal charity, emigrated to Tonga five years ago.
How can volcanoes create new islands?
Volcanic islands are created by eruptions underwater, usually at the boundaries of two tectonic plates, which are pieces of the earth’s crust.
When the plates ease apart, lava spews out in a volcanic eruption.
When the lava cools, layers of erupted material form the basis of new land mass.
The layers build their way up from the sea bed to create new islands.
On Sunday she took to social media to comment on the eruption, saying her home was under a tsunami warning. It is believed the waves hit minutes later.
Tattooist James is believed to have been able to cling to a tree but Angela, who runs a dog rescue centre on the island and several of her animals were swept away.
Her friend Donna Head posted on Facebook: ‘Ange is still missing.’
She added: ‘We must be optimistic and pray for a miracle… I’m trying to process that this beautiful happy face is missing.
‘I shall continue to update when I have further news.’
She finished with the hashtag #prayforAnge.
Another post read: ‘My uncle held on to a tree but my Auntie and dogs were washed away.
‘My uncle still hasn’t been able to find my Auntie. If anyone has any information please reach out.’
As the search continued, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison pledged his country would supply aid to Tongans as soon as possible but added the ash cloud was adding to the logistical problems.
‘There’s been a lot of challenges there with the ash cloud and the disruption to communications and so we are working together to get as much support to Tonga as we possibly can,’ Morrison said.
Australia’s Minister for the Pacific Zed Seselja said initial reports suggested no mass casualties and that Tonga’s airport ‘appears to be in relatively good condition’ but there were ‘significant damage’ to roads and bridges.
Seselja said Australia was liaising with the United States, New Zealand, France and other countries to coordinate responses.
New Zealand’s Defence Minister Peeni Henare said at a news conference in Auckland that power had been restored in large parts of Nuku’alofa and some communications are back up.
A New Zealand Hercules C-130 would perform drops of essentials after the requirements are assessed and the navy will also be deployed.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Sunday that the tsunami had a significant impact on infrastructure.
Red Cross said it was mobilising its regional network to respond to what it called the worst volcanic eruptions the Pacific has experienced in decades.
The eruption is the latest explosion on the islands in the past month after days of volatility on Tonga, which has seen smaller eruptions before
The volcanic eruption let out a huge plume of ash and has reportedly created a new island, although communications remain down on Tonga
Left: A satellite image shows the underwater volcano Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai with a plume of smoke rising from it, days before the eruption. Right: The volcano two hours before its eruption in Tonga.
‘Red Cross has enough relief supplies to support 1,200 households with essential items such as tarpaulins, blankets, kitchen sets, shelter tool kits and hygiene kits,’ said Katie Greenwood, IFRC’s Pacific Head of Delegation told Reuters.
She said the agency is expecting up to 80,000 people to be affected by the tsumani
‘That is what we are planning for as a worst-case scenario until we can get further confirmation from the people on the ground,’ she said.
The agency said there were concerns that communities may not have access to safe drinking water as a result of saltwater inundation caused by the tsunami waves and ashfall.
The Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano has erupted regularly over the past few decades but the impact of Saturday’s eruption was felt was far away as Fiji, New Zealand, the United States and Japan. Two people drowned off a beach in Northern Peru due to high waves caused by the tsunami.
Early data suggests the volcanic eruption was the biggest blast since Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines 30 years ago, New Zealand-based volcanologist Shane Cronin told Radio New Zealand.
‘This is an eruption best witnessed from space,’ Cronin said.
‘The large and explosive lateral spread of the eruption suggests that it was probably the biggest one since about the 1991 eruption of Pinatubo,’ Cronin said.
‘This is one of the massive explosions the volcano is capable of producing roughly every thousand years,’ he added. ‘We could be in for several weeks or even years of major volcanic unrest from the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano.
Satellite images showed a huge eruption, with a plume of ash, steam and gas rising above the sea. A sonic boom could be heard as far away as Alaska.
The Tonga Meteorological Services said a tsunami warning was declared for all of the archipelago, and data from the Pacific tsunami center said waves of 2.7 feet were detected.
Across the Pacific on California’s central coast, the National Weather Service reported tsunami waves up to 4 feet (1.2 meters) and flooding in beach parking lots at Port San Luis. About 200 miles (320 km) down the coast, the waves were much smaller at Southern California’s Seal Beach, according to Michael Pless, the owner of M&M Surf School.
Tonga volcano eruption as seen from Himawari-8 of the Japan Meteorological Agency. Hundreds of frightened Tongans fled to higher ground as the eruption triggered a tsunami in the island nation, with a four-foot wave observed in Tonga’s capital Nuku’alofa
Locals pleaded for people to ‘pray for us’ as the eruption was compared to ‘bombs going off’ by those who heard it, followed by the tsunami surging ashore
In this satellite image taken by Himawari-8, a Japanese weather satellite, and released by the agency, shows an undersea volcano eruption at the Pacific nation of Tonga Saturday
Rachel Afeaki-Taumoepeau, who chairs the New Zealand Tonga Business Council, said she hoped the relatively low level of the tsunami waves would have allowed most people to get to safety, although she worried about those living on islands closest to the volcano.
She said she hadn’t yet been able to contact her friends and family in Tonga.
Some churches in New Zealand organised community prayers in Auckland and other cities.
‘We pray God will help our country at this sad moment. We hope everybody is safe,’ Maikeli Atiola, the Secretary of the Wesleyan Church of Tonga in Auckland said, Radio New Zealand reported.
Ms Ardern said the main undersea communications cable has been impacted, likely due to loss of power.
Power was being restored in some areas on the islands and local mobile phones were slowly starting to work, she added.
One complicating factor to any international aid effort is that Tonga has so far managed to avoid any outbreaks of Covid-19.
Ms Ardern said New Zealand’s military staff were all fully vaccinated and willing to follow any protocols established by Tonga.
The Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano is located about 40 miles north of the capital, Nuku’alofa. In late 2014 and early 2015, a series of eruptions in the area created a small new island and disrupted international air travel to the Pacific archipelago for several days.
There is not a significant difference between volcanoes underwater and on land, and underwater volcanoes become bigger as they erupt, at some point usually breaching the surface, said Hans Schwaiger, a research geophysicist with the Alaska Volcano Observatory.
With underwater volcanoes, however, the water can add to the explosivity of the eruption as it hits the lava, Schwaiger added.
Before an explosion, there is generally an increase in small local earthquakes at the volcano, but depending on how far it is from land, that may not be felt by residents along the shoreline, Schwaiger said.
In 2019, Tonga lost internet access for nearly two weeks when a fiber-optic cable was severed. The director of the local cable company said at the time that a large ship may have cut the cable by dragging an anchor. Until limited satellite access was restored people couldn’t even make international calls.
Southern Cross Cable Network’s Veverka said limited satellite connections exist between Tonga and other parts of the world but he did not know if they might be affected by power outages.
People look at a damaged boat in a marina at Tutukaka, New Zealand, after waves from a volcano eruption swept into the marina
A car is caught in rising water at Santa Cruz Harbor on Saturday as tsunami flooding strikes low-lying areas
A tsunami has struck Tonga sending terrified locals fleeing for high ground as huge waves crashed over roads and into homes (pictured, tsunami waves begin to overwhelm coastal homes in Tonga on Saturday)
Locals took to social media to share dramatic videos of the surging waves making land and crashing through homes and cars (pictured, still images from video filmed in Tonga and posted to social media on Saturday)
Source: Daily Mail