Tonga issues tsunami warning after underwater volcano eruption | News

People including the king of Tonga have been evacuated from coastal areas after an undersea volcano near the Pacific nation erupted.

On Saturday, the Pacific nation of Tonga issued a tsunami warning after an undersea volcano erupted, with video posted on social media showing large waves washing ashore along the coast.

The Tonga Meteorological Service said the tsunami warning was in effect for the whole of Tonga. Authorities in nearby Fiji also issued warnings telling people to avoid the coastline due to strong currents and dangerous waves.

The island business news site reported that a convoy of police and military had evacuated Tonga’s King Tupou VI from his palace near the coast. He was one of many residents who traveled to the Highlands.

The eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano is the latest in a series of spectacular eruptions.

A Twitter user named Dr. Faka’iloatonga Taumoefolau posted a video showing the waves crashing ashore.

“The eruption could really be heard, it sounded violent,” he wrote, adding in a later post: “It rained ash and pebbles and darkness enveloped the sky.”

Earlier, the Matangitonga news site reported that scientists had observed massive explosions, thunder and lightning near the volcano after it began erupting early on Friday.

Satellite imagery showed a 5-kilometer-wide (3-mile) cloud of ash, steam and gas rising about 20 kilometers (12 miles) into the air, the website said.

More than 2,300 kilometers (1,400 miles) away in New Zealand, officials warned that the eruption could trigger a storm surge.

The National Emergency Management Agency said parts of New Zealand could see “strong and unusual sea currents and unpredictable swells along the coast following a massive volcanic eruption”.

Late Saturday, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the threat to American Samoa appeared to have passed, although minor surf fluctuations were likely to continue.