The eruptions sent a plume of ash, gas and steam 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) into the air, according to RNZ. Satellite imagery showed a massive ash cloud and shockwaves spreading from the eruption. Ash was falling from the sky in the Tonga capital, Nuku’alofa, Saturday evening and phone connections were down.
The eruption caused a severe tsunami on Tongatapu, where the capital is located, with waves flowing onto coastal roads and flooding properties on Saturday.
So far, New Zealand authorities have not received any reports of deaths or injuries in Tonga related to the eruption, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at a news conference on Sunday.
The tsunami had a “significant impact” on Nuku’alofa, with boats and large boulders washed ashore, and shops along the coast damaged, she added.
Tonga’s King Tupou VI was evacuated from the palace, RNZ said, citing local media reports of a convoy of police and troops rushing the monarch to a villa at Mata Ki Eua.
Telecommunications were affected, though it’s not clear how widespread the damage is yet, Ardern said, adding that the main undersea cable has been impacted likely due to loss of power.
The New Zealand government has committed an initial $340,000 in relief supplies, technical support, and supporting local responses, with the country’s Defence Force sending assistance to Tonga, Ardern said.
She added that while conditions in the area seem stable, further eruption activity cannot be ruled out.
Impact in Japan
Japan’s Meteorological Agency issued a tsunami advisory for the country’s coastal areas early Sunday morning, with the northeastern prefecture of Iwate seeing waves as high as 2.7 meters (9 feet). Multiple smaller tsunamis were reported in numerous other locations, according to public broadcaster NHK.
By Sunday afternoon, all tsunami advisories had been lifted, the meteorological agency said. Weather agency officials ruled out the possibility of further tsunamis across the country, but said there might be some tidal fluctuations.
Japan’s coast guard was out assessing damage, but so far none had been reported, NHK said, noting it was still dark and more waves were expected. Officials continued to ask people to stay alert and away from beaches.
Footage shared on NHK from a viewer in Setouchi town, on Amami Oshima Island, showed bumper-to-bumper traffic as cars evacuated to higher ground. Other footage showed people sleeping on floors in evacuation centers in Iwate.
Elsewhere, Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said it recorded a tsunami wave of 1.2 meters (about 4 feet) near Nuku’alofa at 5:30 p.m. local time…
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