Local media reported that a tsunami hit the coast of the South Pacific island of Tonga on Saturday, after a violent volcanic eruption, and no injuries were reported.
A large wave hit some homes and buildings in front of the beach and quickly inundated the surrounding areas, according to videos posted on social media by witnesses who had taken refuge on the roofs of their homes.
Local authorities have issued a tsunami warning for the entire country after an underwater volcano erupted at Henge-Tonga-Hongga-Ha’apai, about 65 kilometers from Tongatapu, the main island of this island nation of 71,000 people.
According to witnesses, the volcano erupted at 17:20 (04:20 GMT) and threw a huge cloud of ash into the air, according to Radio New Zealand’s portal.
The waves also hit part of the island of Vanua Levu in northeastern Fiji, while the Samoan authorities issued a warning about the possibility of rising waters.
Meanwhile, Islands Business News reports that a unit of police and military forces has evacuated King Tupou VI of Tonga from his palace near the coast, finding himself among several residents heading to higher ground.
Expected “extraordinarily strong currents and unexpected inflation”
New Zealand’s Emergency Management Agency said on Twitter that “extraordinarily strong currents and unexpected inflation” were expected off the north and east coast of the North Island and the Chatham Islands in that surrounding country.
The Tonga Meteorological Service posted a satellite image of the undersea volcano cloud on its Facebook profile, which already showed signs of increased activity the previous day and also issued a temporary tsunami warning.
The authorities urged all coastal residents to take shelter from the waves at high altitudes and to wear face masks to protect them from falling ash.
The eruption of the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano was the latest in a series of major eruptions.
News website Matangi Tonga reported that scientists noticed massive explosions, thunder and lightning near the volcano after it began erupting early Friday.
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