Residents of the Tonga islands were fleeing to the heights on Saturday in the face of a tsunami caused by a new massive eruption – heard up to hundreds of kilometers – of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano.
“A 1.20 m tsunami was observed in Nuku’alofa“, the capital of the country, announced the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. The previous tsunami had not exceeded 30 cm. And the alert had just been lifted when the volcano erupted again.
King Tupou VI of Tonga was evacuated from the royal palace of Nuku’alofa and taken to a villa far from the coast.
The eruption lasted eight minutes, and was so loud that it was heard”like a sound of distant thunderon the Fiji Islands, more than 800 km away, Fiji officials said.
They also warned residents to cover water supplies to protect them from acid rain or ash.
Victorina Kioa from the Tonga Public Utilities Commission called on people to “stay away from all threatened locations i.e. beaches, reefs and all flat coastlines“.
The authorities have also advised the entire population to stay indoors as much as possible, to wear masks if they have to go out and, there too, to protect all water supplies.
Tsunami warnings have also been issued for Fiji and Samoa, New Zealand and Australia.
Australian authorities have warned the people of Sydney and its region, New South Wales, of “get out of the water, and move away from the water’s edge“.
Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai is located on one of the uninhabited islands of Tonga, about 65 km from the capital Nuku’alofa.