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Video shows massive waves crashing Army base in Marshall Islands, causing extensive damage

Powerful waves hit U.S. military base in Marshall Islands. Dramatic video shows damage. Dozens evacuated. Recovery may take months.

A powerful series of weather-driven waves struck the island of Roi-Namur in the Marshall Islands on the night of January 20, 2024, causing significant damage to the U.S. military installation located there. The waves resulted in ocean water inundation, damaging infrastructure and forcing dozens of people to evacuate the island.

Dramatic video footage from the event shows a large wave striking the Army's dining hall, causing doors to break down and knocking people over as water gushes into the building. Another wave, which appeared to be even higher, followed, bringing with it more water. The lights then went off, creating a scene reminiscent of a disaster movie.

Despite the severity of the event, only one person was injured and was reported to be in stable condition, receiving treatment for their injuries at a local clinic on Kwajalein Island. No deaths were reported.

In response to the disaster, an Emergency Operations Cell was set up immediately to oversee and coordinate all recovery efforts. All employees were accounted for, and non-mission essential personnel were evacuated to Kwajalein Island, located about 40 miles to the south at the other end of the atoll.

By Tuesday, 80 of the 120 personnel residing in Roi-Namur had been evacuated, while 60 people remained to assess the damage and restore basic services. The U.S. Army Garrison - Kwajalein Atoll is now focused on clearing the runway on Roi-Namur and assessing its safety, as it is the top priority for moving people and equipment back to start the recovery process.

The recovery process, known as "Operation Roi Recovery," involves multiple mission partners and is expected to take months to complete. Aerial photos show massive damage to Roi-Namur's infrastructure, with multiple areas on the island still underwater. The quarters, dining facility, chapel, and theater received moderate or extensive damage, and the automotive complex remains submerged.

The U.S. Army Garrison-Kwajalein Atoll supports the U.S. Space and Missile Defense Command's Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site, which serves as an integral space and missile defense test range for the Department of Defense and houses some of the U.S. Army's most sophisticated space tracking equipment.

Saman Shafiq is a trending news reporter for USA TODAY. You can reach her at [email protected] and follow her on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter @saman_shafiq7.

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