Tsunami waves have hit the Pacific nation of Tonga after a giant underwater volcano eruption.

Satellite images captured the eruption followed by a huge plume of ash, steam and gas, triggering large waves that crashed ashore and sent people rushing to higher ground.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or the extent of the damage as communications with the small nation remained problematic.

The Tonga Meteorological Services said a tsunami warning had been put in force for all of Tonga.

Authorities in nearby Fiji also issued a warning, telling people to avoid the shoreline due to strong currents and dangerous waves.

Tsunami waves of 2.7ft (83 cm) were observed by gauges at the Tongan capital of Nuku’alofa and waves of 2ft at Pago Pago, the capital of American Samoa, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said.

It is the latest in a series of spectacular eruptions from the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano.

Dr Faka’iloatonga Taumoefolau posted footage on Twitter showing water crashing on to the shore and flooding properties.

“Can literally hear the volcano eruption, sounds pretty violent,” he wrote.

A convoy of police and military troops reportedly evacuated Tonga’s King Tupou VI from his palace near the shore as residents headed for higher ground.

Scientists had observed massive explosions, thunder and lightning near the volcano after it started erupting early on Friday, the Matangi Tonga news site reported.

The site said satellite images showed a three-mile wide plume of ash, steam and gas rising up to 12-miles into the air.

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

The country’s national emergency management agency said it expected “strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges” to hit the north and east coast of the North Island and the Chatham Islands.

New Zealand weather forecasting company Weather Watch posted on Twitter: “The energy release is simply astonishing.

“Tonga is around 2,000km away from New Zealand. Reports of people hearing the sonic booms across New Zealand.”

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