Tsunami hits Tonga after giant volcano eruption
Written by Shresta Dutt on January 15, 2022
Tsunami waves caused by a giant underwater volcanic eruption have hit the Pacific country of Tonga.
Social media footage showed water washing through a church and several homes, and witnesses said ash was falling over the capital, Nuku’alofa.
A tsunami warning sent residents scrambling to higher ground.
The eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haʻapai volcano sent shockwaves across the South Pacific.
Tonga’s capital lies just 65km north of the volcano.
One Tongan resident, Mere Taufa, said the eruption hit as her family was preparing for dinner, and her younger brother thought bombs were exploding nearby.
The eight-minute eruption was so violent it could be heard as “loud thunder sounds” in Fiji, more than 800km (500 miles) away, according to officials in the capital Suva. The Fijian Government has issued a tsunami advisory and opened evacuation centres for people in low-lying coastal areas.
In New Zealand, which is more than 2,300km away, officials have warned of storm surges.
Local forecaster Weather Watch tweeted: “The energy release is simply astonishing”, adding: “Reports of people hearing the sonic booms across New Zealand.”