- An underwater volcanic eruption has led to tsunami warnings being issued to the people of Tonga.
- Tonga’s capital, Nukuʻalofa, lies 40 miles (64km) north of the volcano.
- Residents are being encouraged to move to higher ground.
The Pacific nation of Tonga has issued a tsunami warning after a massive undersea volcanic eruption.
It caused large waves to crash into the island, and islanders living by the coast fled for their lives.
Footage on social media shows people scrambling to get away from the waves and reach higher ground.
One Tongan resident, Mere Taufa, spoke to the New Zealand news site Stuff.co.nz and said the eruption hit as her family was preparing for dinner.
“My first instinct was to take cover under the table. I grabbed my little sister and screamed at my parents and others in the house to do the same”.
Taufa said that, suddenly, water started filling her home.
“You could just hear screams everywhere, people screaming for safety, for everyone to get to higher ground,” she said.
Satellite images showed the violent undersea eruption, with data from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center saying waves of 80 centimeters (2.6 feet) had been detected, AP reports.
No casualties or injuries have yet been reported.
Authorities in the nearby island nations of Fiji and Samoa also issued warnings, telling people to avoid the shoreline due to strong currents and dangerous waves.
In New Zealand, which is 1,250 miles (2,012km) away from Tonga, the National Management Agency has warned of “strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges at the shore” as a result of the eruption.”
Officials warned of a danger to “swimmers, surfers, people fishing, small boats” and people near the ocean should move inland.