Volcano erupts near Tonga, islanders rush to escape waves

National & World News

In this satellite image taken by Himawari-8, a Japanese weather satellite, and released by the agency, shows an undersea volcano eruption at the Pacific nation of Tonga Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. An undersea volcano erupted in spectacular fashion near the Pacific nation of Tonga on Saturday, sending large waves crashing across the shore and people rushing to higher ground. (Japan Meteorology Agency via AP)

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND (Associated Press) — An undersea volcano has erupted in spectacular fashion near the Pacific nation of Tonga, sending large waves crashing across the shore and people rushing to higher ground.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or the extent of the damage as communications with the small nation remain problematic.

Video posted to social media shows large waves washing ashore in coastal areas, swirling around homes and buildings. New Zealand’s military says it’s monitoring the situation and remains on standby, ready to assist.

Satellite images show a 3-mile-wide plume of ash, steam and gas rising up into the air 12 miles high.

Tonga’s King Tupou VI was reportedly evacuated from his palace near the shore, among the many residents who headed for safety. About 105,000 people live in Tonga.

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