Tsunami washes over Pacific island nation of Tonga after massive volcano eruption

The eruption caused shockwaves across the South Pacific

An eruption of a massive underground volcano sent tsunami waves crashing ashore on the Pacific island nation of Tonga on Saturday.

Residents scrambled to higher ground after a tsunami warning was issued.

In the capital Nuku’alofa, residents reported ash falling from the sky. Tonga’s capital is just 65 kilometres north of the volcano.

The eruption caused shockwaves across the South Pacific.

In Fiji, more than 800 kilometres away, officials in the capital Suva said the eruption sounded like distant thunder. The Fijian government issued a tsunami advisory. In New Zealand, there were reports of people hearing sonic booms across the country following the eruption. The country is more than 2,300 kilometres away, but coastal residents were warned about the possibility of storm surges.

The eruption lasted for eight minutes.

A tsunami advisory or watch is in effect for some other South Pacific nations including New Zealand, and there is a tsunami advisory for the British Columbia coast and the U.S. states of California, Oregon Washington and Alaska.

As a precaution, the U.S. and Japan have advised people on their Pacific coastlines to get away from the shore.

Banner image: VOLCANO DISCOVERY – Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano (TONGA)