Tsunami hits Tonga after giant undersea volcanic eruption

Satellite images showed a huge eruption, a plume of ash, steam and gas captured from the space rising like a mushroom above the blue Pacific waters.

Published: 15th January 2022 05:28 PM  |   Last Updated: 15th January 2022 08:45 PM   |  A+A-

The satellite image shows an undersea volcano eruption at the Pacific nation of Tonga.

The satellite image shows an undersea volcano eruption at the Pacific nation of Tonga. (Photo | AP)

By Associated Press

Tsunami waves caused by a giant undersea volcanic eruption in the Pacific country of Tonga forced the people to flee their homes even as streets and homes were flooded as waves reportedly crashed into Tonga's main island of Tongatapu.  

There were no immediate reports of injuries or the extent of the damage as communications with the small nation remained problematic. Video posted to social media showed large waves washing ashore in coastal areas, swirling around homes and buildings.

New Zealand’s military said it was monitoring the situation and remained on standby, ready to assist if asked.

Satellite images showed a huge eruption, a plume of ash, steam and gas captured from the space rising like a mushroom above the blue Pacific waters.

The Tonga Meteorological Services said a tsunami warning was in effect for all of the archipelago, and data from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center showed waves of 80 centimeters (2.6 feet) had been detected.

Authorities in the nearby island nations of Fiji and Samoa also issued warnings, telling people to avoid the shoreline due to strong currents and dangerous waves. The Japan Meteorological Agency said there may be a slight swelling of the water along the Japanese coasts, but it is not expected to cause any damage.

The Islands Business news site reported that a convoy of police and military troops evacuated Tonga’s King Tupou VI from his palace near the shore. He was among the many residents who headed for higher ground.

The explosion of the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano was the latest in a series of spectacular eruptions.

A Twitter user identified as Dr. Faka’iloatonga Taumoefolau posted video showing waves crashing ashore.

“Can literally hear the volcano eruption, sounds pretty violent,” he wrote, adding in a later post: “Raining ash and tiny pebbles, darkness blanketing the sky.”

Earlier, the Matangi Tonga news site reported that scientists observed massive explosions, thunder and lightning near the volcano after it started erupting early Friday. Satellite images showed a 5-kilometer (3 mile) -wide plume rising into the air to about 20 kilometers (12 miles).

More than 2,300 kilometers (1,400 miles) away in New Zealand, officials were warning of storm surges from the eruption.

The National Emergency Management Agency said some parts of New Zealand could expect “strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges at the shore following a large volcanic eruption.”

Late Saturday, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the threat to American Samoa appeared to have passed, although minor sea fluctuations could continue.

The volcano is located about 64 kilometers (40 miles) north of the capital, Nuku’alofa. Back in late 2014 and early 2015, a series of eruptions in the area created a small new island and disrupted international air travel to the Pacific archipelago for several days.

Tonga is home to about 105,000 people.



Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp