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Tsunami waves wash over Tonga after undersea volcano erupts

Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 9:55 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 15, 2022 at 1:50 AM HST
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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) - Large tsunami waves washed over Tong after an undersea volcano erupted, sending up a massive plume of smoke and ash.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no threat of large tsunami waves in Hawaii.

The eruption of the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano was so big it could be seen from space. Residents reported feeling blast waves after the eruption. And then a short time later, waves crashed ashore.

“Can literally hear the volcano eruption, sounds pretty violent,” Dr. Faka’iloatonga Taumoefolau wrote on Twitter. “Raining ash and tiny pebbles, darkness blanketing the sky.”

Earlier, the Matangi Tonga news site reported that scientists had observed massive explosions, thunder and lightning near the volcano after it started erupting Friday.

The site said satellite images showed a 3-mile-wide plume of ash, steam and gas rising up into the air to about 12 miles.

More than 1,400 miles away in New Zealand, officials were warning of storm surges from the eruption.

The National Emergency Management Agency said some parts of New Zealand could expect “strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges at the shore following a large volcanic eruption.”

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