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US-Born Kitefoiler, 18, Dies Weeks Before Olympics

JJ Rice had been set to represent Tonga in sport's Olympic debut

(Newser) - An American-born kitefoiler has died in a diving accident in Tonga at age 18, just weeks before he was to represent the Pacific island nation at the Paris Olympics. JJ Rice died Saturday off the island of Ha'apai, where his British-born parents operate a tourist lodge, CBS News reports....

After Volcano Burst, 'Most Extreme Concentration of Lightning' Ever

Eruption of Tonga's Hunga volcano spurred 400K lightning events in 6 hours

(Newser) - Showers of ash, giant waves, and massive explosions weren't the the only things locals had to worry about when Tonga's Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano erupted last January in the South Pacific. Lightning also made an appearance, and a whole lot of it—so much, in fact, that...

New Island Emerges From Pacific
The World Has
a New Island

The World Has a New Island

Latest addition to Tonga islands after volcanic eruption might be short-lived

(Newser) - The world's land area is a tiny bit bigger than it was a month ago thanks to an eruption in the southwest Pacific Ocean. NASA's Earth Observatory says an island rose above the surface of the water around 12 hours after an eruption began Sept. 10 on a...

Formerly COVID-Free Nation Locked Down After Aid Delivery

Authorities in Tonga say port workers tested positive

(Newser) - Update: Tonga has entered its first lockdown of the pandemic, days after relief ships delivered aid to the disaster-hit Pacific island nation. Authorities say two workers who helped unload aid shipments tested positive for COVID, as did three of their family members, the New York Times reports. Tonga, which was...

Scientists Say Tonga Eruption Deserves 'Ultra' Designation

It was many times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima

(Newser) - Scientists are continuing to paint a picture of just how strong the undersea volcanic eruption that happened Jan. 15 near the island nation of Tonga was. In short, many, many, many multiples of the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima. NBC News has a statement from NASA that puts the preliminary...

Tongans Celebrate 'Real Life Aquaman' Who Survived Tsunami

Lisala Folau lived through a 27-hour, 8-mile ordeal at sea before landing 3 islands away from home

(Newser) - It appears major catastrophe was averted on Tonga after a volcanic eruption and tsunami over the weekend, but Lisala Folau still had quite an ordeal in the aftermath. As communications with the island are slowly being restored , the Tonga man's story is getting out, and it's a wild...

Tonga's Communications Could Be Cut Off for Weeks

Cable ruptured, bringing internet and some phone service down

(Newser) - After the eruption of an undersea volcano and the ensuing tsunami , Tonga could be cut off from communications with the rest of the world for weeks. Just one fiberoptic cable provides global communications to the South Pacific archipelago, and it ruptured when the volcano erupted amid a magnitude 7.6...

After Tonga's Massive Eruption, 'Very Good News'

'Catastrophic' disaster was apparently averted, though at least 2 have died and ash is everywhere

(Newser) - The blast from the volcano could be heard in Alaska, and the waves crossed the ocean to cause an oil spill and two drownings in Peru. The startling satellite images resembled a massive nuclear explosion. And yet, despite sitting almost on top of the volcano that erupted so violently on...

South Pacific Tsunami Cleared the Fog in Seattle
South Pacific Tsunami
Cleared the Fog in Seattle
the rundown

South Pacific Tsunami Cleared the Fog in Seattle

No reports of mass casualties in Tonga, though a British woman is missing

(Newser) - Just how big was the volcanic eruption near the South Pacific island nation of Tonga over the weekend? Researchers say it was likely the biggest such eruption on the planet in the last 30 years, reports CNN . The eruption of the undersea volcano on Saturday sent a plume of ash...

First, a 'Violent' Eruption. Then, 'Darkness Blanketing the Sky'

Undersea volcano erupts near Tonga, waves crash to shore amid tsunami warning

(Newser) - An undersea volcano erupted in spectacular fashion near the Pacific nation of Tonga on Saturday, sending large waves crashing across the shore and people rushing to higher ground. There were no immediate reports of injuries or the extent of the damage as communications with the small nation, home to about...

Woman in Tonga for Weekend Ends Up Trapped For 18 Months

She's not that upset about it

(Newser) - A British woman is telling her story of a weekend trip to the South Pacific that has now stretched on for some 18 months. It'll come as no surprise that COVID is to blame for what Zoe Stephens dubs "the longest weekend of my life," but the...

Real-Life Lord of the Flies Survivors 'Finally Getting the Attention They Deserve'

Writer has been 'bombarded with emails' from movie producers

(Newser) - A real-life version of Lord of the Flies in which the stranded boys happily cooperate with each other appears to be just the kind of story the world wants to hear right now. Author Rutger Bregman says he has been bombarded with emails from producers and directors seeking to make...

Case of Shipwrecked Boys Was Nothing Like Lord of the Flies

Historian Rutger Bregman tells the amazing story of 6 boys stranded more than a year

(Newser) - Chances are you're familiar with Lord of the Flies, either in novel or movie form. It's the story by William Golding about a group of British schoolboys shipwrecked on an island, a tale that descends into brutality and imparts a bleak message about human nature. But in an...

One of the World's Newest Islands Has a Mystery

NASA visitors 'baffled' by mud on land mass near Tonga

(Newser) - An underwater volcano burped up a land mass near Tonga about four years ago, and NASA researchers who visited the new island for the first time got a surprise. The South Pacific island informally called Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai has "very sticky" clay mud, says scientist Dan Slayback in...

Island Was to Disappear in Months. It's Now Been 3 Years

NASA hopes it will give insights into Martian volcanoes

(Newser) - When an ash island formed in the Pacific Ocean following an underwater volcanic eruption in late 2014, scientists predicted it would soon disappear. Over the next six months, the island nestled between two others of the Tonga nation experienced heavy erosion, but "then it leveled off," NASA scientist...

'Ring of Fire' Volcano Births New Island

But it's likely to have a short life span

(Newser) - Mother Earth has given birth to new land. An island has formed in the Pacific Ring of Fire, where a volcano has been erupting since Dec. 20. Tonga's Ministry of Lands, Survey, and Natural Resources tells the Weather Network the volcano is erupting from two vents. One is spewing...

Fresh Quake Rattles Tonga
 Fresh Quake Rattles Tonga 

Fresh Quake Rattles Tonga

6.3 shaker jolts islands as relief efforts continue

(Newser) - The latest in a series of strong earthquakes to shake the South Pacific hit Tonga today. The epicenter of 6.3 magnitude quake was some 100 miles south of the 8.0 quake that hit the region earlier this week, spawning tsunamis that killed nearly 200 people and left thousands...

Samoa Tsunami Toll Hits 150
 Samoa Tsunami Toll Hits 150 

Samoa Tsunami Toll Hits 150

Villagers describe terror of being trapped underwater

(Newser) - Stunned Samoans combed through the sodden wreckage of their lives and told of the terror of being trapped underwater or flung inland by a tsunami that ravaged towns and killed at least 150 people in the South Pacific. Officials expect the death toll from Tuesday's disaster to rise as more...

Post-Quake Tsunami Kills 34 in Samoa
 Post-Quake Tsunami 
 Kills 34 in Samoa 

Post-Quake Tsunami Kills 34 in Samoa

8.3-magnitude temblor rattles American Samoa

(Newser) - An 8.3-magnitude earthquake struck the area around American Samoa today, generating a tsunami that killed as many as 34 in the US territory and adjacent Samoa, an independent state. The waves at Pago Pago were 5.1 feet above normal—smaller than originally feared— but tsunami warnings went up...

Undersea Volcano Erupts in Pacific 'Ring of Fire'

It's not yet a threat to islanders, animal life

(Newser) - Scientists sailed today to inspect an undersea volcano that has been erupting for days near Tonga—shooting smoke, steam, and ash thousands of feet into the sky above the South Pacific ocean. The eruption doesn't pose any danger to islanders at this stage, authorities say, and there have been no...

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