Terrified Tongans flee tsunami after spectacular underwater volcanic eruption

Just Taufa said she was at her house preparing for dinner when the volcano erupted.

“It was massive, the ground shook, our house was shaking. It came in waves. My younger brother thought bombs were exploding nearby,” she told the Stuff news website.

Minutes later, she said, water filled their house and she saw the wall of a nearby house collapse.

“We knew right away it was a tsunami. Only water was pouring into our house. You could just hear screaming everywhere, people screaming for safety, so everyone could get to higher ground.”

The initial explosion lasted at least eight minutes and sent plumes of gas, ash, and smoke several kilometers into the air.

Fijian officials have warned residents not to cover water harvesting tanks in case of acid rain.

Victorian Keough of Tonga’s Public Service Commission said people should “keep away from warning areas which are low-lying coastal areas, coral reefs and beaches”.

Taniela Kula, Tonga’s head of geological services, urged people to stay indoors, wear a mask if outside and cover rainwater tanks and rainwater harvesting systems.

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