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Tsunami threat recedes after undersea volcano erupts near Tonga

Tonga Volcano Eruption tsunami
Posted at 6:06 AM, Jan 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-15 21:17:40-05

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — The tsunami threat around the Pacific from a huge undersea volcanic eruption has begun to recede, while the extent of damage to Tonga remains unclear.

The eruption on Saturday sent tsunami waves swirling around buildings and people rushing to higher ground. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage because all internet connectivity with Tonga was lost.

Following the eruption, a tsunami advisory was issued for Japan, Hawaii, Alaska and the U.S. Pacific coast.

Authorities in Southern California closed beaches and piers as a precaution.

The Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano is located about 40 miles north of Tonga's capital.

Video posted to social media shows large waves washing ashore in coastal areas, swirling around homes and buildings. Satellite images show a 3-mile-wide plume of ash, steam and gas rising up into the air 12 miles high.

Tonga's King Tupou VI was reportedly evacuated from his palace near the shore, among the many residents who headed for safety.

About 105,000 people live in Tonga.

A series of eruptions in 2014 and 2015 disrupted international air travel to the Pacific archipelago for several days.