THIS is the horror moment when a huge underwater volcano erupted off the coast of Tonga, causing a terrifying tsunami.
Waves of 2.7ft swept through the streets of the Pacific nation as residents rushed to higher ground after the “violent” eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano.
There were no immediate reports of injuries or the extent of damage after the island of 105,000 people was plunged into darkness following the eruption.
Images posted on social media showed large waves breaking on the shore in coastal areas, swirling around houses and buildings.
The New Zealand military said it was monitoring the situation and remained on standby and ready to assist the nation.
Terrifying satellite images from space showed the huge eruption, which lasted at least eight minutes and sent plumes of gas, ash and smoke several miles into the air.
The Tonga Meteorological Services said a tsunami warning was in effect for the whole of Tonga, with the island’s capital just 65 km north of the volcano.
Authorities in the neighboring island nations of Fiji and Samoa have also issued urgent warnings, telling people to avoid the shore due to strong currents and dangerous waves.
The volcano’s explosion was the latest in a series of spectacular eruptions.
A Twitter user posted a video showing waves crashing on the shore.
He said, “Can literally hear the volcano erupting, quite violent sounds. It’s raining ash and tiny pebbles, darkness covers the sky.”
Tonga resident Mere Taufa said the eruption occurred as her family was preparing for dinner and her younger brother thought bombs were exploding nearby.
She told New Zealand news site Stuff.co.nz: “My first instinct was to hide under the table, I grabbed my little sister and shouted at my parents and the other people in home to do the same.”
Taufa said the next thing she knew, water was rushing into their house.
“You could just hear screams everywhere, people screaming for safety, for everyone to get to the high ground,” she said.
King Tupou VI of Tonga was reportedly evacuated from the royal palace in Nuku’alofa and taken by a police convoy to a villa far from the coast.
The Matangi Tonga news site said scientists saw massive explosions, thunder and lightning near the volcano after it erupted early Friday.
The site said satellite images showed a three-mile-wide plume of ash, steam and gas rising 12 miles into the air.
More than 1,400 miles away in New Zealand, officials warned of storm surges from the eruption.
The National Emergency Management Agency said parts of New Zealand could expect unusual strong currents and unpredictable surges on shore after the large volcanic eruption.
the-sun : Giant volcano eruption in horror moment seen from SPACE as tsunami crashes into Tonga sweeping streets