Satellite images show volcanic eruption that caused tsunami in Pacific

An underwater volcano has erupted near the Pacific nation of Tonga, sending large tsunami waves crashing across the shore and people rushing to higher ground.

A satellite captured images of the eruption of the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano that sent a huge plume of ash, steam and gas billowing miles into the sky as a mushroom cloud.

According to the Associated Press, there were no immediate reports of injuries, tho communication with the small nation remains difficult. The extent of the damage is unknown, but videos posted to social media showed large waves washing ashore in coastal areas, swirling around homes and buildings.

Earlier, the Matangi Tonga news site reported that scientists observed massive explosions, thunder and lightning near the volcano after it started erupting early Friday. Satellite images showed a 3 mile-wide plume rising into the air to about 12 miles.

Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai is located about 40 miles north of the capital, Nuku’alofa.

More than 1,400 miles away in New Zealand, officials were warning of storm surges from the eruption. According to FOX Weather, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has issued a Tsunami Advisory for the state of Hawaii and the entire West Coast.

Saturday's explosion volcano was the latest in a series of spectacular eruptions. Back in late 2014 and early 2015, a series of eruptions in the area created a small new island and disrupted international air travel to the Pacific archipelago for several days.

Tonga is home to about 105,000 people.


This story was reported from Atlanta. The Associated Press contributed to this report.