Huge plume of smoke after a massive volcanic eruption

The initial explosion lasted at least eight minutes and sent plumes of gas

Nuku’alofa, Tonga: Frightened Tongans fled to higher ground on Saturday after a massive volcanic eruption – heard in neighboring countries – triggered the region’s second tsunami in days.

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology tweeted: “Tsunami wave of 1.2m has been observed in Nukualofa.” The maximum tsunami wave recorded after Friday’s explosion was 30 cm.

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

My gift said she was getting ready for dinner at her house when the volcano erupted.

“It was huge, the ground was shaking, our house was shaking. It came in waves. My younger brother thought the bombs were detonating,” Taufa told the Stuff news website.

He said that after a few minutes their house was flooded and he saw that the wall of the neighbor’s house had collapsed.

“We knew right away that it was a tsunami. We just had water running through our house.

“You could just hear screams everywhere, people screaming for safety, for everyone to move to higher ground.”

King Taupo VI of Tonga was evacuated from the Royal Palace in Nuku’alofa and taken by a police convoy to a villa off the beach.

The initial explosion lasted at least eight minutes and sent plumes of gas, ash and smoke several kilometers into the air. Residents of the coastal areas were urged to move to higher ground.

Officials in Suva said the explosion was so intense that it was heard as a “strong thunderstorm” in Fiji more than 800 kilometers (500 miles) away.

There, officials warned residents to cover water collection tanks in case the acidic ash fell.

Victoria Kioa of the Tonga Public Service Commission said on Friday that people should “stay away from the warning areas which are low-lying coastal areas, reefs and beaches”.

Tonga Geological Services chief Tanila Kula urged people to stay indoors, wear masks when outside, and cover rainwater reservoirs and rainwater harvesting systems.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a “tsunami advisory” for American Samoa, saying there was “a risk of sea level fluctuations and strong ocean currents that could be a hazard along the coasts”.

Similar warnings were issued by authorities in New Zealand and Fiji.

Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai Volcano is located on an uninhabited island approximately 65 kilometers (40 mi) north of the Tongan capital Nuku’alofa.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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