Journalist based in Tonga describes ‘huge’ volcanic explosions

Source: 1News

A journalist based in Tonga has given her account of the sudden eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai underwater volcano on Saturday afternoon.

It's the second eruption in as many days after it erupted on Friday sending ash, steam and gas 20 kilometres into the air.

Journalist, Mary Fonua, based in the capital - Nukuʻalofa spoke to 1News on Saturday evening and called the situation "precarious’"

“You’ll forgive the wobble in my voice because we’ve had a very frightening hour,” she said.

Fonua said there was a series of "huge explosions" as the volcano, 65km away, erupted and was followed about 15 minutes later by tsunami waves.

"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 heading to a nearby, low-lying settlement,' which she said was a 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 said, adding police had come out with a loudspeaker and warned people about the tsunami.

She said people had been warned over the past few days to keep away from the seafront.

“That seems to have worked, I don’t think there was anybody in the water,” Fonua said.

Follow 1News' live updates on the developing situation in Tonga

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.”