from BZ / afp
Dozens of people have fled to higher ground in the South Pacific nation of Tonga after a volcanic eruption and tsunami.
“A tsunami of 1.2 meters high was seen in Nuku’alofa,” the Australian Meteorological Service said on Saturday. According to local media, citing local residents, many homes in the island’s capital were inundated by the tidal wave. Tsunami warnings have also been issued for other countries in the Pacific, including Fiji, Vanuatu, New Zealand and Australia.
“The ground shook, the whole house shook. It came in waves. My younger brother thought there were bombs exploding near us,” Tonga hometown Mer Tuva told Stav. After a few minutes, the water entered her house and saw the wall of a neighboring house collapsing.
Official Victoria Kiowa urged people to “keep away from all dangerous places, which means beaches, coral reefs and all the flat stretches of the coast.” The king of the island nation, Topo VI, was reportedly moved from his palace in Nuku’alofa to a villa far from the coast.
Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano is located on an uninhabited island about 40 miles from Tonga’s capital, Nuku’alofa. It did erupt on Friday, and the tsunami warning was lifted shortly thereafter.
Saturday’s eruption lasted eight minutes and was so powerful that it could be heard “like thunder from afar” even in the Fiji islands more than 800 km away, according to Fiji officials.
“Coffee trailblazer. Social media ninja. Unapologetic web guru. Friendly music fan. Alcohol fanatic.”