A Tonga-based journalist has described the Saturday afternoon eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai underwater volcano.
It’s the second eruption in as many days, following one on Friday that ejected ash, steam, and gas 20 kilometers into the air.
On Saturday evening, Mary Fonua, a journalist residing in Nukualofa, spoke to 1News and described the situation as “precarious.”
“You’ll forgive the wobble in my voice because we’ve had a very frightening hour,” she said.
Fonua described a sequence of “huge explosions” as the volcano, 65 kilometers away, erupted, followed by tsunami waves around 15 minutes later.
“The first ones were the biggest,” she said.
“This long white wave, we could see coming from the horizon. After about three waves it had come over the road and into our garden,” she said.
Fonua said the “huge, rolling” waves were threatening a neighboring, low-lying village, which she described as a matter of concern.
“I did see a few cars coming out before the waves hit,” but, she said there are thousands of people in that area of the peninsula.
“The cracking earthquakes were so dire,” she claimed, adding that police had used a megaphone to warn people of the tsunami.
People had been urged to stay away from the seafront in recent days, she said.
“That seems to have worked, I don’t think there was anybody in the water,” Fonua said.
She said she could see lightening flashing in the direction of the volcano.
“That volcano is still very active, 65km away.
“We couldn’t see it today because of the whiteout on the horizon.
“There is ash blowing in, saying she could feel it on her forehead and eyes, adding her fingers were “grey”.
“The strong wind that we had is blowing the ash into Nukuʻalofa, I can feel it,” she said.
“There is nothing you can do about it. We are tough, we will just tough it out and see how it progresses.”