Wild footage has been shared of a volcano in Tonga erupting and spewing smoke a day before it caused tsunamis across the Pacific kingdom.
Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai has erupted several times over the past week including Friday before Saturday’s eruption led to the Kingdom of Tonga being hit with huge waves.
Video shared by Tonga’s Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources on Saturday showed the volcano erupting in footage which appears to have been filmed on Friday.
Smoke and ash is seen blanketing the sky as a crew passes the volcano in the sea.
At one point lightning cuts through the curtain of dust and fire but only briefly as the sky is completely swallowed by the eruption.
“The mountain dust is up to 1,000m high in the sky. It covers an area of 5km of sand/gas and the dust of the Tonga-Tonga Hahake rocks,” the ministry said.
Alejandro Méndez, a geologist based in Mexico, shared some of the video on Twitter.
“Between water vapor, lightning and pyroclastic flows, this was the nightmare that was experienced in the vicinity of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai volcano after its gigantic eruption,” he tweeted.
At this stage no deaths have been reported in Tonga although communications with the kingdom via internet have been down since about 6.40pm local time on Saturday.
The eruption on Saturday caused shockwaves across the world.
Beaches in NSW closed after tsunami warning
A marine warning remains active along coastal NSW with people being told to stay out of the water. Overnight, Bondi Beach was evacuated.
Dave Snider, the tsunami warning coordinator for the National Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, Alaska, said it was very unusual for a volcanic eruption to affect an entire ocean basin, and the spectacle was both “humbling and scary”.
The tsunami waves caused damage to boats as far away as New Zealand and Santa Cruz, California, but did not appear to cause any widespread damage.
Mr Snider said he anticipated the tsunami situation in the US and elsewhere to continue improving.
Tsunami advisories were earlier issued for Japan, Hawaii, Alaska and the US Pacific coast.
The US Geological Survey estimated the eruption caused the equivalent of a 5.8-magnitude earthquake. Scientists said tsunamis generated by volcanoes rather than earthquakes are relatively rare.
Rachel Afeaki-Taumoepeau, who chairs the New Zealand Tonga Business Council, said she hoped the relatively low level of the tsunami waves would have allowed most people to get to safety, although she worried about those living on islands closest to the volcano.
She said she hadn’t yet been able to contact her friends and family in Tonga.
“We are praying that the damage is just to infrastructure and people were able to get to higher land,” she said.
with The Associated Press
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