Tsunami strikes Tonga after undersea volcanic eruption

·1 min read
Volcanic eruption off the coast of Tonga
Volcanic eruption off the coast of Tonga MARY LYN FONUA/AFP via Getty Images

The Polynesian archipelago nation of Tonga was struck by a tsunami Saturday after an undersea volcano erupted 40 miles south of the capital city on the main island of Tongatapu, BBC reports.

The volcano, called Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai, shot smoke and ash more than 12 miles into the sky and produced a shockwave felt as far away as New Zealand.

No injuries or fatalities have yet been reported, but videos show large waves striking the shore and swirling around cars and houses as ash blotted out the sun and people fled to higher ground. The extent of the damage is still unclear due to spotty communications, but a local news outlet confirmed that Tongan King Tupou VI was evacuated from his palace by the sea.

According to The Wall Street Journal, neighboring Fiji and Samoa have also issued tsunami warnings.

Tonga has a population of just over 100,000 people, of whom 70 percent live on the main island.

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