Printed on Thu Sep 29 2022 8:42:42 PM

Tsunami hits Tonga after volcano eruption

International desk
World
Tsunami hits Tonga
People have been forced to flee their homes, and streets and buildings have flooded, as tsunami waves crashed into Tonga’s main island of Tongatapu, following a huge underwater volcano explosion.

The eruption at 0410 GMT on Friday of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai underwater volcano, located about 65km (40 miles) north of Tonga’s capital, Nuku’alofa, caused a 1.2-metre tsunami, Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said.

The eruption – captured in satellite images that show a huge plume of ash, steam, and gas rising from the ocean – was heard and felt as far away as in Fiji and Vanuatu, where people reported feeling the ground and buildings shake for hours.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or the extent of the damage in Tonga, but videos posted to social media showed huge waves in coastal areas, swirling around homes and buildings.

Communications and power were reportedly out across Tonga’s main island, and the government called up military reserves to assist with the disaster response.

Islands Business reported that a convoy of police and military troops evacuated King Tupou VI from his palace near the shore, and local news site Kaniva Tonga reported long lines of traffic as thousands of people attempted to reach higher ground across the main island.

Dr Faka’iloatonga Taumoefolau, a project coordinator working with the Tongan parliament said the explosion had led to a fall of “ash and tiny pebbles, darkness blanketing the sky”.

Tsunami waves of 2.7 ft (82 cm) were observed by gauges in the Tongan capital, and waves of 2 feet in Pago Pago, the capital of American Samoa, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.
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