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Volcano erupts near Tonga, islanders rush to escape waves


Satellite view of Fiji Islands (Samoa), Samoa Islands (Tonga), Wallis Islands and Futuna Islands

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A spectacular eruption of an undersea volcano occurred near Tonga, in the Pacific region. It sent large waves breaking against the coast and caused people to rush for higher ground.

As communications with this small country remained difficult, there were no immediate reports on injuries and the extent of damage. Large waves were seen washing onto the beaches of coastal regions, as well as swirling about homes and buildings.

New Zealand’s army said that they were monitoring the situation closely and are ready to respond if necessary.

Satellite images revealed a massive eruption. According to the Tonga Meteorological Services, a tsunami alert was issued for Tonga. Fiji and Samoa, both nearby islands, also warned people about the dangers of strong currents.

According to The Islands Business, a group of military and police troops and police evacuated King Tupou VI of Tonga from the palace at his coast. He was just one of the residents that headed higher.

Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai’s volcano erupted in the most recent of a string of stunning eruptions.

Video showing waves breaking on the shore was posted by Dr. Faka’iloatonga taumoefolau, a Twitter user.

He wrote that he could hear the eruption of a volcano and added in another post, “Raining ash, tiny pebbles, darkness blanketing all the sky.”

The Matangi Tonga news website reported earlier that scientists witnessed massive explosions and thunder near the volcano shortly after it began erupting on Friday morning.

According to the site, satellite images revealed a 5 kilometer (3 mi) wide plume of gas, steam and ash rising into the air up to 20 km (12 miles).

New Zealand officials warned that storm surges could occur at more than 2,300km (1,400 mile) from New Zealand.

According to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), some New Zealand areas could experience strong and unusual currents or unpredictable surges on the shores following large-scale volcanic eruptions.

On Saturday night, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center stated that while the threat of American Samoa appears to have ended, minor sea fluctuations might continue.

About 64km (40 miles), the volcano can be found north of Nuku’alofa capital. In late 2014/early 2015, several eruptions caused a new small island to form and interrupted international travel to the Pacific archipelago.

About 105,000 people call Tonga home.