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HomeWorldVolcano erupts in sea near Tonga, islanders move off coast to avoid...

Volcano erupts in sea near Tonga, islanders move off coast to avoid tsunami waves

Wellington (New Zealand), Jan 15 (AP) Huge waves were seen rising to the coast on Saturday after a volcano erupted under the sea near Tonga, with people rushing to higher places to escape.

How much damage has been caused by these waves and no information has been received about any casualty as of now. This is because the connectivity and communication services with this small country are not that good. Videos posted on social media showed huge waves surrounding homes and buildings in coastal areas.

New Zealand’s military said it was monitoring the situation and was ready to help if needed.

A satellite image shows a mushroom-shaped plume of ash, steam and gas rising over the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean.

The Tonga Meteorological Service said a tsunami warning was in effect for the whole of Tonga, and data from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center detected waves as high as 80 cm. Authorities in nearby Fiji and Samoa have also issued warnings and instructed people to avoid approaching the beach in view of strong and dangerous waves.

Japan’s Meteorological Agency said there could be a slight rise in the water level near the coast of Japan, but it is not expected to cause damage.

The Island Business news site reported that a convoy of police and military forces pulled King Taupo VI of Tonga out of his palace near the beach. Many residents, including King Tupo VI, have been moved to the upper reaches.

The eruption took place at the Hunga Tonga Hunga Hapai Volcano in Tonga.

A Twitter user named Dr. Fakyloetonga Taumoefolau shared a video in which the waves are seen crossing the shore and going into the residential area.

He wrote, “I can actually hear the sound of the volcano erupting, it sounds so fierce.”

He wrote, “Ashes and small pebbles are raining down, the sky is dark.”

Earlier, the Matangi Tonga news site reported that scientists observed massive explosions, thunder and lightning after the volcano became active in the early hours of Friday.

Images obtained from the satellite show a plume of smoke rising to a height of about 20 kilometers (12 mi) in the sky. At the same time, officials in New Zealand, located more than 2,300 kilometers (1,400 mi) away, warned of a storm due to the explosion.

The National Emergency Management Agency said “strong and unusual waves could be accompanied by unexpected surges” off the coast in parts of New Zealand following a major volcanic eruption.

On Saturday, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the tsunami threat appears to have passed over American Samoa, however, light fluctuations will continue at sea.

This volcano is located approximately 64 kilometers (40 mi) north of the capital Nukualofa.

Previously, a series of volcanic eruptions in the region in late 2014 and early 2015 caused a small new island to form and international air travel to the Pacific archipelago nation was disrupted for several days.

About 1,05,000 people live in Tonga.

AP Dheeraj Dileep

Dileep

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