Frightened Tongans fled to the upper floor Saturday after an enormous volcanic eruption — heard in neighbouring international locations — triggered tsunami warnings throughout the South Pacific.

“A 1.2-metre tsunami wave has been noticed at Nuku’alofa,” Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology tweeted.

The latest eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano came just a few hours after a separate Friday tsunami warning was lifted due to the eruption.

Mere Taufa said she was in her house getting ready for dinner when the volcano erupted.

“It was massive, the ground shook, our house was shaking. It came in waves. My younger brother thought bombs were exploding nearby,” Taufa informed the Stuff information web site.

She mentioned water stuffed their dwelling minutes later and she or he noticed the wall of a neighbouring home collapse.

“We simply knew right away it was a tsunami. Just water gushing into our dwelling.

“You might simply hear screams in every single place, individuals screaming for security, for everybody to get to greater floor.”

Tonga’s King Tupou VI was reported to have been evacuated from the Royal Palace in Nuku’alofa and taken by a police convoy to a villa well away from the coastline.

The initial eruption lasted at least eight minutes and sent plumes of gas, ash and smoke several kilometres into the air.

Residents in coastal areas were urged to head for higher ground.

The eruption was so intense it was heard as “loud thunder sounds” in Fiji greater than 800 kilometres (500 miles) away, officers in Suva mentioned.

Fijian officers warned residents to cowl water assortment tanks in case of acidic rain fall.

Victorina Kioa of the Tonga Public Service Commission mentioned Friday that individuals ought to “avoid areas of warning that are low-lying coastal areas, reefs and seashores”.

The head of Tonga Geological Services Taaniela Kula urged people to stay indoors, wear a mask if they were outside and cover rainwater reservoirs and rainwater harvesting systems.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre issued a “tsunami advisory” for American Samoa, saying there was a risk of “sea-level fluctuations and robust ocean currents that could possibly be a hazard alongside seashores”.

Similar warnings were issued by authorities in New Zealand, Fiji, Vanuatu and Australia — where authorities said a swathe of coastline including Sydney could be hit by tsunami waves.

People in surrounding New South Wales state were “advised to get out of the water and move away from the immediate water’s edge”.

The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano sits on an uninhabited island about 65 kilometres (40 miles) north of the Tongan capital Nuku’alofa.

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