Parts of New Zealand are under tsunami warning after a violent eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai submarine volcano in Tonga this afternoon.
An advisory is in place for the north and east coast of the North Island and the Chatham Islands.
The National Emergency Management Agency said people in those areas could experience strong, unusual currents and unpredictable surges on shore.
People are urged to stay away from beaches and coastal areas until 4 a.m. Sunday.
It is not necessary to evacuate other areas unless directly notified by the local civil protection authorities.
A Tonga-wide tsunami warning was issued just after 5:30 p.m. by the Tonga Meteorological Service.
There is also a tsunami advisory in place for Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu and a marine warning for parts of Australia.
King Tupou VI of Tonga has been evacuated from the royal palace after a tsunami flooded the capital Nuku’alofa, following another volcanic eruption.
Local media report that a convoy of police and troops rushed the king to a villa in Mata Ki Eua as residents headed for higher ground.
In addition to the palace grounds, the waterfront and main street were flooded in Nuku’alofa.
Some other islands are of concern, especially the Ha’apai group, which is very low.
Earlier, explosions were heard as the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano erupted for eight minutes, throwing clouds of ash into the sky.
US Stormwatch tweeted that the eight-minute eruption was one of the most violent ever captured by satellite.
Tonga Geological Services says the plumes of gas, smoke and ash reached 20 kilometers into the sky.
This is the latest in a series of eruptions from the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano, located 65 kilometers north of the capital.
The latest explosions were heard even in New Zealand, more than 2,300 kilometers away, and as “loud sounds of thunder” in Fiji, 500 kilometers away.
New Zealand forecaster Weather Watch tweeted: The energy release was simply stunning, with reports of people hearing the sonic booms all over New Zealand.
Here’s how things went: