The Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai volcano erupted again on Saturday January 15, triggering a tsunami on the coast of Tonga and cutting telephone and internet lines throughout the island.
Thick plumes of ash and smoke were propelled up to 20 km into the sky.
The inhabitants of the Tonga Islands fled to the heights on Saturday in the face of the tsunami caused by this new massive eruption heard up to hundreds of kilometers.
"A 1.20 m tsunami was observed in Nuku'alofa", the country's capital, announced the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. The previous tsunami had not exceeded 30 cm. And the alert had just been lifted when the volcano erupted again. "It was a massive explosion," local resident Mere Taufa, who was at home preparing dinner, told the Stuff news site. “The ground shook, the whole house shook. It came in waves. My younger brother thought bombs were going off near our house,” she said. “We immediately knew it was a tsunami, with this water gushing into the house. You could hear screams all around, and everyone started fleeing to higher ground,” she added.
The impressive eruption of the volcano in the Tonga islands seen from space
King Tupou VI of Tonga was evacuated from the royal palace in Nuku'alofa and taken to a villa far from the coast.
The eruption lasted eight minutes, and was so loud it was heard "like a distant thunderous sound" over the Fiji Islands, more than 800km away.
Australia and New Zealand sent surveillance flights on Monday January 17 to assess the damage in Tonga, cut off from the rest of the world after the eruption blanketed the Pacific island in ash.