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Huge plumes of smoke after a massive volcanic eruption in Tonga

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

Nuku’alofa, Tonga:

Scared Tongans fled to higher ground on Saturday after a massive volcanic eruption – heard in neighboring countries – triggered the region’s second tsunami in as many days.

“A 1.2 meter tsunami wave was observed in Nukualofa,” the Australian Bureau of Meteorology tweeted. The maximum tsunami wave recorded after Friday’s explosion was 30 centimeters.

The latest eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano came just hours after the tsunami warning was lifted on Friday.

Mere Taufa said she was at home getting ready for dinner when the volcano erupted.

“It was huge, the ground shook, our house shook. It came in waves. My younger brother thought bombs were exploding nearby,” Taufa told the Stuff news site.

She said water filled their house minutes later and she saw the wall of a nearby house crumble.

“We knew straight away it was a tsunami. Just water gushing into our house.

“You could just hear screams everywhere, people screaming for safety, for everyone to get to the high ground.”

King Tupou VI of Tonga was reportedly evacuated from the royal palace at Nuku’alofa and taken by police convoy to a villa away from the coast.

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

The eruption was so intense it was heard as a “loud thunderclap” in Fiji more than 800 kilometers (500 miles) away, officials in Suva said.

There, officials warned residents to cover water collection tanks in case acid ash falls.

Victorina Kioa of Tonga’s Civil Service Commission said on Friday that people should “steer clear of warning areas which are low-lying coastal areas, reefs and beaches”.

Tonga Geological Survey chief Taaniela Kula urged people to stay indoors, wear a mask if outdoors and cover rainwater tanks and rainwater harvesting systems. rainwater.

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

Similar warnings have been issued by New Zealand and Fijian authorities.

The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano sits on an uninhabited island about 65 kilometers (40 miles) 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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