Volcanic mountains

Satellite images show volcanic eruption that triggered Pacific tsunami

An underwater volcano has erupted near the peaceful nation of Tongasending large tsunami waves crashing onto the shore and people rushing for higher ground.

A satellite has captured images of the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano erupting which sent a huge plume of ash, steam and gas rising for miles into the sky in the shape of a mushroom cloud.

According to the Associated Press, no injuries were immediately reported, but communication with the small nation remains difficult. The extent of the damage is unknown, but videos posted on social media showed large waves washing up in coastal areas, swirling around houses and buildings.

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

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, authorities warned of storm surges from the eruption. According to FOX Weatherthe Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has issued a tsunami advisory for the State of Hawaii and the the whole west coast.

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

Tonga is home to approximately 105,000 people.

___

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