Tonga tsunami alert as undersea volcano eruption causes large waves to hit island

January 15, 2022

A tsunami alert has been issued by the Pacific nation of Tonga after an undersea volcano erupted.

Video posted on social media platforms showed large waves washing ashore in coastal areas.

The Tonga Meteorological Services said a tsunami warning had been put in force for all of Tonga.

It is the latest in a series of spectacular eruptions from the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha'apai volcano.

Dr Faka'iloatonga Taumoefolau posted footage on Twitter showing water crashing on to the shore and flooding properties.

"Can literally hear the volcano eruption, sounds pretty violent," he wrote.

Scientists had observed massive explosions, thunder and lightning near the volcano after it started erupting early on Friday, the Matangi Tonga news site reported.

The site said satellite images showed a three-mile wide plume of ash, steam and gas rising up to 12-miles into the air.

More than 1,400 miles away in New Zealand, officials were warning of storm surges from the eruption.

The country's national emergency management agency said it expected "strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges" to hit the north and east coast of the North Island and the Chatham Islands.

New Zealand weather forecasting company Weather Watch posted on Twitter: "The energy release is simply astonishing.

"Tonga is around 2,000km away from New Zealand. Reports of people hearing the sonic booms across New Zealand."

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