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Tsunami threat around the Pacific

The tsunami threat around the Pacific from a huge undersea volcanic eruption has began to recede, while the extent of damage to Tonga remained unclear.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said there had not yet been any official reports of injuries or deaths in Tonga, but cautioned that authorities hadn’t yet made contact with some coastal areas and smaller islands.

“Communication with Tonga remains very limited. And I know that is causing a huge amount of anxiety for the Tongan community here,” Ardern said.

She said there had been significant damage to boats and shops along the Tongan coastline. The capital, Nuku’alofa, was covered in a thick film of volcanic dust, Ardern said, contaminating water supplies and making fresh water a vital need.

Satellite images showed the spectacular eruption that took place on Saturday evening, with a plume of ash, steam and gas rising like a mushroom above the blue Pacific waters. 

A sonic boom could be heard as far away as Alaska.

In Tonga, it sent tsunami waves crashing across the shore and people rushing to higher ground.

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