Tsunami waves crash across coast as volcano erupts under sea near Tonga

An underwater volcano erupted on Saturday near the Pacific nation of Tonga, causing huge tsunami waves to crash ashore and people flee to higher ground.

The tsunami advisory was in effect for Hawaii and the US Pacific Coast.

There were no reports of any casualties or the extent of the damage as communications with the country remained closed for hours after the explosion.

In Hawaii, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reported waves hitting the coast ranged from a foot high in Nawiliwili, Kauai, to two and a half feet in Hanalei.

“We are relieved that there is no damage and there has been only minor flooding across the islands,” the center said.

In Tonga, videos posted on social media showed large waves rolling around homes and buildings in coastal areas.

The New Zealand military said it was monitoring the situation and was on standby, ready to assist if asked.

Satellite images show a massive explosion, a plume of ash, steam and gas rising like a mushroom over blue Pacific waters.

Tonga Meteorological Services said a tsunami warning had been declared for all of the archipelago, and data from the Pacific Tsunami Center showed waves of two and a half feet were detected.

Residents of American Samoa were alerted by broadcasters to tsunami warnings as well as church bells that are region-wide.

An external siren warning system was out of service. People living along the shoreline quickly moved to higher places.

As night went on, there were no reports of any damage and the Tsunami Center in Hawaii canceled the alert.

Officials in the nearby island nations of Fiji and Samoa also issued warnings, asking people to avoid shorelines due to strong currents and dangerous waves.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said there could be slight swelling in the waters off the Japanese coast, but no damage is expected.

The island business news site reported that a convoy of police and military soldiers escorted King Taupo VI of Tonga from his palace near the shore.


An underwater volcano erupts in spectacular fashion near Tonga (Japan Meteorological Agency/AP)

He was among the many residents who headed to the higher ground.

Hunga Tonga The eruption of the Hunga Haapai volcano was the latest in a series of spectacular eruptions.

A Twitter user identified as Dr Faka’ilotonga Toumofolou posted a video of the waves crashing into the sea.

“Can literally hear the eruption of the volcano, sounds very violent,” he wrote in a later post: “Ashes and small pebbles raining down, the sky is dark.”

Earlier, the Matangi Tonga news site reported that scientists saw massive eruptions, thunder and lightning after the volcano erupted early on Friday.

Satellite images show a three-mile plume rising about 12 miles into the air.

More than 1,400 miles away in New Zealand, officials were warning of a storm surge from the eruption.

The National Emergency Management Agency said parts of New Zealand can expect “strong and unusual currents and unexpected surges along the coast following a large volcanic eruption”.

The volcano is located about 40 miles north of the capital Nuku’alofa.

In late 2014 and early 2015, a series of eruptions in the area created a small new island and disrupted international air travel to the Pacific Islands for several days.

Tonga is home to approximately 105,000 people.