Pacific nations and humanitarian organizations are making efforts to establish contacts with the island of Tonga after a tsunami caused by a massive volcanic eruption cut phone and internet connections, raising concerns about the situation on the tiny island.
An underwater volcano erupted off Tonga on Saturday, triggering tsunami warnings and evacuation orders on Tonga’s beaches and on a number of South Pacific islands, where video footage posted on social media showed waves crashing into homes on the coast.
Internet and phone lines were down, leaving the island’s 105,000 residents with virtually no means of communication.
“The images of the volcanic eruption that occurred near Tonga are extremely worrying,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, located 1,481 miles from Tonga, said in a statement on Instagram.
“Communications have become difficult because of the explosion, but a team from our defense forces is working in cooperation with the State Department at the time we are talking to determine what is needed and how we can help,” she added.
New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said there were no reports of injuries or deaths yet, but that communications were limited.
The Pacific office of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in Suva, Fiji, said it was monitoring the situation and had no information on the extent of damage or casualties.
The volcano has erupted frequently over the past few decades, but its eruption on Saturday was so loud that residents in remote parts of Fiji and New Zealand said they heard it.
Satellites captured images of the eruption, where the explosion sent plumes of smoke into the air, about 12 miles above sea level.
The sky over Tonga became overcast with black clouds as a result of ash.
The eruptions triggered by tsunami warnings across the Pacific Ocean, with the United States and Japan telling people on their Pacific coasts to stay away from beaches.
Australia issued tsunami warnings for the coasts of New South Wales, Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island, and said beaches along the state’s coast were closed. Tsunami warnings were also issued for New Zealand.
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