Scared Tongans fled to higher ground on Saturday after a massive volcanic eruption – heard in neighboring countries – triggered the area’s second tsunami in as many days.
“A 1.2-meter tsunami wave has been observed at Nukualofa,” the Australian Bureau of Meteorology tweeted. The maximum tsunami wave recorded after Friday’s explosion was 30 centimeters.
The latest eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano came just hours after Friday’s tsunami warning was lifted.
Tonga volcanic eruption captured by #Himawari satellite..
— Raj Bhagat P #Mapper4Life (@rajbhagatt) January 15, 2022
Mere Taufa said she was at her house getting ready for dinner when the volcano erupted.
“It was huge, the ground shook, our house was shaking. It came in waves. My younger brother thought bombs were going off nearby,” Taufa told Stuff news website.
She said their house was filled with water minutes later and she saw the wall of a neighboring house collapse.
“We just knew right away that it was a tsunami. Water just poured into our house.
“You could hear screams everywhere, people shouting for safety, for everyone to go to higher ground.”
Tonga’s King Tupou VI is said to have been evacuated from the Royal Palace in Nuku’alofa and taken by a police convoy to a villa far from the coast.
The initial eruption lasted at least eight minutes and sent plumes of gas, ash and smoke several miles into the air. Residents of coastal areas were urged to move to higher areas.
The eruption was so intense it was heard as “loud thunders” in Fiji, more than 800 kilometers (500 miles) away, officials in Suva said.
There, officials warned residents to cover the water collection tanks in the event of acid ash.
Victorina Kioa of the Tonga Public Service Commission said on Friday that people should “stay away from warning areas which are coastal lowlands, reefs and beaches”.
Tonga Geological Services chief Taaniela Kula urged people to stay indoors, wear masks when outside and cover stormwater reservoirs and stormwater harvesting systems.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a “tsunami advisory” for American Samoa, saying there was a threat from “sea level fluctuations and strong ocean currents that could pose a hazard along beaches.”
Similar warnings were issued by authorities in New Zealand and Fiji.
The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano is located on an uninhabited island about 65 kilometers (40 miles) north of the Tongan capital Nuku’alofa.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by DailyExpertNews staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)