Status: 01/15/2022 2:51 p.m
After the volcanic eruption in Tonga, a tsunami warning applies, people flee to higher areas. In the capital, Nuku’alofa, there was a 1.2 meter high tidal wave, according to reports, houses were flooded.
After a volcanic eruption in the island nation of Tonga in the South Pacific, many people fled to higher ground. The authorities had previously issued a tsunami warning.
“A 1.2 meter high tsunami wave was observed in Nuku’alofa,” the Australian Meteorological Service said. As reported by local media, citing local residents, the tidal wave flooded numerous houses in the island’s capital. It had rained ash and telephone connections had failed. The extent of the damage is currently unclear.
Official Victorina Kioa urged people to “stay away from all dangerous places, which means beaches, reefs and all flat stretches of coast”. The island nation’s king, Tupou VI, was reportedly taken from his palace in Nuku’alofa to a villa far from the coast.
Military in New Zealand on alert
Fiji and Samoa authorities also issued a warning. A TV reporter from Fiji posted a video on Twitter showing smaller waves hitting shore and people scrambling for safety in their cars. A warning for American Samoa was lifted shortly afterwards.
The New Zealand military, which is more than 2,300 kilometers from Tonga, said it was on alert to respond in case of an emergency. Around 105,000 people live in Tonga.
Volcano active again and again since December
The volcano Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai erupted on Friday. It is located about 30 kilometers southeast of Tonga’s Fonuafo’ou Island (also known as Falcon Island).
Scientists observed massive explosions, thunder and lightning near the volcano, news website Matangi Tonga reported. A five kilometer wide ash and gas cloud could be seen on satellite images. She had risen to a height of around 20 kilometers. The eruption on Saturday lasted eight minutes and was so strong that it could still be heard “like a distant rumble of thunder” even on the Fiji Islands more than 800 kilometers away, according to officials there.
The volcano has been active again and again since December. However, according to TGS, the latest eruption was seven times stronger than the last eruption. The agency also warned of possible acid rain in the region.