Sydney, Australia – A tsunami hit the coast of the island of Tonga, in the Pacific Ocean, with no reports of possible victims so far and after registering a violent volcanic eruption, local media reported.
The large waves hit houses and buildings located on the beachfront and quickly flooded the surrounding area., according to videos posted on social networks by witnesses who had taken refuge on the roof of their houses. Tonga has about 105,000 inhabitants.
The New Zealand Army said it was monitoring the situation and was on standby, ready to act if required.
On Twitter, a user identified as Dr. Faka’iloatonga Taumoefolau posted a video of waves crashing onto the shore.
“I can literally hear the volcano erupting, it sounds pretty violent,” he wrote. In another post later he said: “Ash and small stones are raining, darkness covers the sky.”
Local authorities issued a tsunami alert for the entire country after the eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai submarine volcano, about 65 kilometers from the island of Tongatapu, the main island of this island nation populated by about 71,000 inhabitants.
According to witnesses, the volcano erupted at 5:20 p.m. (Tonga local time) and released a huge cloud of ash into the air, according to the Radio New Zealand portal.
The waves also hit part of Vanua Levu Island, in northeastern Fiji, while the Samoan authorities have issued an alert for possible rising waters.
The New Zealand Emergency Management Agency indicated on Twitter that they expect “strong currents and unusual unpredictable swells” on the north and east coast of the North Island and the Chatham Islands of the oceanic country.
The Tonga Meteorological Service published on its Facebook profile a shocking satellite image of the cloud caused by the underwater volcano, which already showed signs of increasing activity the day before and which also momentarily triggered the tsunami alert.
The authorities have asked the entire population settled on the coasts to go to high areas to shelter from the onslaught of the waves and wear masks before the ash rain.
In late 2014 and early 2015, a series of eruptions in the area created a small new island and disrupted air traffic with the archipelago for several days.