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Tonga issues tsunami warning after underwater volcano eruption | tidings




People are fleeing to higher ground after the massive volcanic eruption caused the second area tsunami in as many days.

The Pacific nation of Tonga issued a tsunami warning after an underwater volcano erupted on Saturday, sending huge waves crashing along the coast and people rushing to higher ground.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or severe damage, as communications on the island, home to about 100,000 people, were cut off. The video posted on social media showed huge waves pouring ashore in coastal areas, circling around houses and buildings.

Tonga Meteorological Services said the tsunami warning was in effect for all of Tonga.

The New Zealand Army said it was monitoring the situation and remained on alert, ready to assist if required.

The Islands Business news site reported that a convoy of police and military troops evacuated Tongan King Tupou VI from his palace off the coast. He was among the many inhabitants who set out for the higher earth.

The latest eruption of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haapai volcano came just hours after Friday’s tsunami warning was lifted.

A Twitter user named Dr Fakailoatonga Taumoefolau posted a video showing the waves crashing ashore.

He can literally hear the volcano erupting, it sounds quite violent, he wrote, adding in a later post: It’s raining ash and small pebbles, darkness covering the sky.

Earlier, news site Matangi Tonga reported that scientists observed massive eruptions, thunder and lightning near the volcano as it began to erupt early Friday.

A map showing Tonga's location in northeastern New Zealand.

The site said satellite images showed a 5km-wide plume of ash, steam and gas rising into the air at about 20km (12 miles).

The blast was so intense that it was heard as loud thunder in Fiji more than 800 km (500 miles) away, officials in Suva said. Authorities in nearby Fiji also issued a warning, urging people to stay away from the coastline due to strong currents and dangerous waves.

More than 2,300 km (1,400 miles) away in New Zealand, officials warned of storm surges from the blast.

The New Zealand Emergency Management Agency issued a tsunami alert for its north and east coasts with areas expected to experience strong and unusual currents and unpredictable waves on shore.

The National Emergency Management Agency said some parts of New Zealand could expect strong and unusual currents and unpredictable waves ashore after a major volcanic eruption.

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

The volcano is located about 64 km (40 miles) north of the Tongan capital, Nukualofa. In late 2014 and early 2015, a series of eruptions in the area created a small new island and disrupted international air travel in the Pacific archipelago for several days.




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