Tongans flee tsunami as volcanic eruption triggers warnings across South Pacific

Published on: 15/01/2022 – 12:26

Terrified Tongan residents fled the highlands on Saturday after a massive volcanic eruption – heard in neighboring countries – triggered tsunami warnings across the South Pacific.

“A 1.2 meters tsunami waves have been observed in Nuku’alofa, “the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said.

The recent eruption of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai a volcano came just hours after Friday’s tsunami alert was lifted as a result of the blast.

Mere Taufa said he was at his house preparing dinner when the volcano erupted.

“It was huge, the ground shook, our house shook. It came in waves. My younger brother thought the bombs were about to explode nearby,” Taufa told Stuff’s website.

He said water flooded their house a few minutes later and he saw the walls of a nearby house collapsing.

“We just knew it was a tsunami. As soon as the water entered our house.

“You just hear every scream, people screaming for safety, for everyone to get to the top.”

TongaKing Tupou VI is said to have been transferred to the Royal Palace in Nuku’alofa and taken by a police force to a village off the coast.

The first explosion lasted at least eight minutes and sent air, ash and smoke several miles into the air.

Residents of coastal areas were encouraged to move to higher ground.


The explosion was so severe that it sounded like “powerful thunders” inside it Fiji more than 800 kilometers (500 kilometers), Suva officials said.

Fiji officials have warned people to close their water tanks in case of acid rain.

Victorina Kioa of the Tonga Public Service Commission said on Friday that people should “avoid warning areas located along the coast, on rocks and beaches”.

Tonga Geological Services Director Taaniela Kula encouraged residents to stay indoors, wear masks when outdoors and cover stormwater drains and stormwater drainage systems.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has issued a “tsunami alert” in American Samoa, citing the risk of “sea turmoil and strong sea currents that could be dangerous along the coast”.

Similar warnings were given by the government to new Zealand, Fiji, Vanuatu and Australia – when officials said the coastline along with Sydney could be affected by tsunami waves.

Residents of the state of New South Wales were “instructed to get out of the water and get off the shore.”

Mount Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai is located on a remote island about 40 miles (40 miles) north of the Tonga capital Nuku’alofa.

(AFP)


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