Terrifying footage circulating on social media captures a massive rogue wave slamming into a US military base on Roi Namur, the second-largest island of the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The force of the wave is so powerful that it rips doors off their hinges and sweeps people off their feet. Some personnel manage to climb atop tables to avoid being swept away. Fortunately, only minor injuries were reported, according to San Francisco-based ABC affiliate ABC7.
The Kwajalein Atoll, where the military base is located, is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, particularly sea-level rise. Researchers have established a connection between global warming and wave-driven flooding, which can damage local infrastructure and freshwater supplies. This incident, involving a combination of wind, tides, and swell direction, is attributed at least partially to climate change.
Roi Namur island houses the US Space and Missile Defense Command’s Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site. The unexpected wave, which occurred after low tide, severely affected the island.
“Roi Namur island was hit hard by several huge waves Saturday night,” local scuba instructor and merchant mariner Erik Hanson wrote in the caption of a video he uploaded to Instagram. “It was a combination of wind, tides, and swell direction. It also was right after low tide at a 1.2 feet tide so could have been worse.”
The Defense Visual Information Distribution Service reported that 80 out of the 120 island residents were evacuated by US Army personnel. The flooding caused damage to personnel housing, a dining facility, and a theater.
“This is going to go down in Kwaj’s history books as one of its most challenging times ever in its 80-year history,” said Garrison commander and former NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan in a video statement shared by ABC7. “We will get through this and we’re settling in for a marathon of recovery ahead.”
Erik Hanson documented the event on Instagram, explained that the waves resulted from a combination of wind, tides, and swell direction. Despite the challenges faced by the community, Garrison commander Andrew Morgan, expressed determination in a video statement shared by ABC7, stating that the incident would go down in Kwajalein’s history as one of its most challenging times. The commander emphasized resilience, asserting that they will navigate through the recovery process, anticipating a prolonged period of rebuilding.