Panicked Tongans fled to higher ground after a massive volcanic eruption on Saturday – heard in neighboring countries – triggering the region’s second tsunami in days.
The Australian Meteorological Bureau tweeted, “Tsunami wave of 1.2 meters has been observed in Nukualofa.” The maximum tsunami wave recorded since Friday’s eruption was 30 centimeters.
The latest eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Hapai volcano occurred just hours after Friday’s tsunami alert was lifted.
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Mere Toufa said he was preparing dinner at his home when the volcano erupted.
“It was huge, the ground was shaking, our house was shaking. It came in waves. My younger brother thought a bomb was exploding nearby,” Toufa told the Staff News website.
He said that a few minutes later their house was flooded and he saw the wall of the neighboring house collapsing.
“It simply came to our notice then that it was a tsunami.
“You can hear screams everywhere, people screaming for safety, for everyone to go to higher ground.”
King Tupau VI of Tonga has been removed from the royal palace of Nuku’alofa and a police convoy is reported to have taken him to a villa off the coast.
The initial eruption lasted at least eight minutes and sent gas, ash and smoke into the air for several kilometers. Residents of the coastal region were urged to move to higher ground.
The epicenter was reported below the Pacific Ocean floor, however; no tsunami alert was issued. The epicenter was reported below the Pacific Ocean floor, however; no tsunami alert was issued.
There, officials warned residents to cover their water collection tanks in case of acidic ash fall.
Victorina Kiwa of the Tonga Public Service Commission said Friday that people should “stay away from precautionary areas that include low-lying coastal areas, walls and beaches.”
Taniella Kula, head of the Tonga Geological Survey, called on people to stay indoors, wear a mask when outdoors, and cover rainwater reservoirs and stormwater harvesting systems.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a “tsunami alert” for American Samoa, saying “there is a risk of sea level rise and strong ocean currents along the coast.”
Similar warnings were issued by authorities in New Zealand and Fiji.
The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’pai volcano sits on an uninhabited island, about 65 kilometers (40 miles) north of the Tongan capital, Nuku’alofa.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)