Tonga issues tsunami warning after undersea volcanic eruption as waves wash ashore
The explosion of the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano was the latest in a series of spectacular eruptions.
A Twitter user identified as Dr Faka’iloatonga Taumoefolau posted video showing waves crashing ashore.
“Can literally hear the volcano eruption, sounds pretty violent,” he wrote, adding in a later post: “Raining ash and tiny pebbles, darkness blanketing the sky.”
The Australian government says it is monitoring the situation and stands ready to provide support.
“Tonga is part of our Pacific family and our thoughts are with the entire community dealing with the impact of the volcanic eruption and tsunami,” a spokesperson told SBS News.
“The prime minister and minister for Foreign Affairs are monitoring the situation and Australia stands ready to provide support to Tonga if requested.
“Initial assessments are still underway and DFAT is working to ensure Australians in Tonga are safe and accounted for.”
Any Australians concerned about people in Tonga should contact DFAT on 1300 555 135 or +61 2 6261 3305.
Thoughts are with the people of #Tonga tonight in the aftermath of the volcanic eruption & tsunami. 🇦🇺 stands ready to provide support to our Pacific family. Australians concerned about people in Tonga should contact @DFAT on 1300555135 or +61262613305. @fekita_u@AustHCTonga
Earlier, the Matangi Tonga news site reported that scientists observed massive explosions, thunder and lightning near the volcano after it started erupting early on Friday.
The site said satellite images showed a five kilometre-wide plume of ash, steam and gas rising up into the air to about 20 kilometres.
Tonga’s Hunga Tonga volcano just had one of the most violent volcano eruptions ever captured on satellite. pic.twitter.com/M2D2j52gNn
More than 2300 kilometres away in New Zealand, officials were warning of storm surges from the eruption.
The National Emergency Management Agency said some parts of New Zealand could expect “strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges at the shore following a large volcanic eruption”.
We have issued a NATIONAL ADVISORY: TSUNAMI ACTIVITY following the Tongan eruption. We expect New Zealand coastal areas on the north and east coast of the North Island and the Chatham Islands to experience strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges at the shore.
The Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre said a 1.2 metre tsunami wave was observed at Nuku Alofa in Tonga at 3.30pm AEDT.
There was no tsunami threat to Australia.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the threat to American Samoa appeared to have passed, although minor sea fluctuations could continue.