Tonga eruption resulted in few casualties, isn't most deadly volcano | Fact check

A handout photo taken on Jan. 7, 2022 and made available by 2022 Planet Labs PBC on Jan. 17, 2022 shows the eruption on the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano.

The claim: 2022 Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcanic eruption was most deadly 'of all time'

A Dec. 23, 2023, Facebook video (direct link, archive link) shows a compilation of clips including satellite images of the 2022 eruption of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai, a submerged volcano in the South Pacific Ocean.

"High Alert! The DEADLIEST Volcano Of All Time FINALLY CRACKED Open the Earth," reads the video's caption.

The video also shows scenes from the 2015 disaster movie, "San Andreas," including a gas station damaged by a giant fissure, animations of Earth from space, explosions in various settings and people running and screaming.

"In January, our planet bore witness to an awe-inspiring yet horrifying spectacle, a mammoth underwater volcano eruption near Tonga," a narrator says.

The post was shared 100 times in less than a week.

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Our rating: False

Relatively few fatalities were associated with the 2022 Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai eruption compared to other volcanic eruptions. It's nowhere close to "deadliest volcano of all time," according to researchers.

Relatively few deaths associated with 2022 Tonga eruption

The January 2022 eruption of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai resulted in a massive explosion that caused tsunamis, disrupted satellite communications and damaged the nearby archipelago of Tonga.

However, it was nowhere near the most deadly eruption of all time. The U.S. Geological Survey reported six deaths associated with the 2022 eruption − four deaths on the Tongan islands and two tsunami-related deaths in Peru. The Smithsonian Global Volcanism Program reported five deaths associated with the eruption − three in Tonga and two in Peru.

A U.S. Geological Survey list of much more deadly eruptions includes the 1985 eruption of Nevado del Ruiz in Colombia which resulted in 25,000 deaths and the 1902 eruption of Mont Pelée in Martinique, which killed 30,000 people.

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There is also no evidence that past eruptions would make Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai the "deadliest volcano of all time."

"There are historical eruptions back to 1912 but none that evidently caused any deaths," Jake Lowenstern, chief of the Volcano Disaster Assistance Program at the U.S. Geological Survey, told USA TODAY in an email. "There have been big eruptions thousands of years ago but no way to know if they killed anyone."

Ed Venzke, the senior data researcher at the Global Volcanism Program, also told USA TODAY that there is no record of fatalities associated with Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai before the 2022 eruption.

USA TODAY reached out to the Facebook user who shared the post for comment but did not immediately receive a response.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Few deaths from Tonga underwater volcano eruption | Fact check