Printed on Sat Oct 01 2022 8:00:38 AM

Tonga tsunami warning as volcano erupts

International desk
Tonga tsunami
Tsunami waves have hit the Kingdom of Tonga after a volcano eruption, which has sent residents fleeing to higher ground.

Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai has erupted several times over the past week, including Friday, but the latest on Saturday afternoon (local time) sent ash up to about 15,800 metres altitude, according to South Pacific journalist Michael Field, citing the Volcanic Ash Advisory Center Wellington.

Images show a huge plume of ash covering Tonga's main island and fast-moving waves making landfall.

Tonga Meteorological Services shared maps showing the spread of the ash over the islands.

"This is an image of the eruption, it covers the whole of the Ha'apai, Tongatapu, and Eua island groups," the agency said.

Tongatapu is a mostly flat island, with its highest point only 28m above sea level.

Locals told the eruption was "catastrophic", and there was ash and volcanic rock raining down on the country’s capital, Nuku'alofa.

Another said she was stuck in traffic attempting to flee to higher ground, and within an hour the sky had become as black as night.
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