Tsunami-Triggered Oil Spill Devastates Peru’s Coast


Tsunami-Triggered Oil Spill Devastates Marine Wildlife on Peru’s Coast After Volcanic Eruption in Tonga

by Elizabeth Gamilo/Smithsonianmag.com

On January 15, a colossal underwater volcano in the South Pacific kingdom of Tonga exploded into a violent fury. The blast, equivalent to several megatons of TNT, left thousands of Tongans without water, internet and telecommunications access. It also triggered tsunami advisories across the Pacific Ocean from Australia to Japan and Alaska to Peru.

Unlike neighboring countries Chile and Ecuador, Peru did not close its beaches or issue warnings during the increased wave activity, and two women drown in abnormally large waves in the northern Lambayeque region of the country, report the New York Times‘ Natasha Frost, Mitra Taj and Eric Nagourney.

Meanwhile, an oil tanker was hit by the waves while offloading cargo at La Pampilla Refinery, located north of Lima and operated by the energy company Repsol. The boat spilled 264,000 gallons of crude oil along the country’s coastline, reports Carlos Mandujano for the Agence France Presse. Initial reports connect the spill to waves caused by the eruption some 6,000 miles away, but an investigation into Repsol’s role in the accident remains ongoing, reports the Atlantic’s Alan Taylor.

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