Former Fiji journalist in Tonga tells of family’s flight from crashing waves

tsunami wave crashes into a Tongan house
A Tongan man watches in shock as a tsunami wave crashes into a house after the undersea volcanic eruption yesterday. Image: Fiji Times/FB

By Luke Nacei in Suva

Waves associated with the continuous volcanic eruption at Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai in Tonga crashed into Tonga’s largest island Tongatapu and forced residents to evacuate their homes.

A former Fijian journalist, Iliesa Tora, said in his Facebook live video that explosions were heard and black clouds of smoke seen in the sky followed by abnormal tidal movements and large waves.

He said a similar incident had occurred several years ago but was not of the same magnitude.

Former Fiji journalist Iliesa Tora’s Facebook video feed on the tsunami.

“Something similar happened seven years ago, but it wasn’t this bad,” he said.

Tora said his family and others were advised to move to higher ground by local authorities.

“An explosion erupted from underneath the sea near Ha’apai and we were given a tsunami warning,” Tora added.

“All the roads in Nuku’alofa have been busy as authorities try to move us to a safer place.”

Tora said rocks showered through the area while they drove to safety.

“Small rocks from the volcanic eruption started to fall like rain as a result of what had happened.”

Fiji villagers flee tidal waves
In Fiji, villagers of Narikoso on Kadavu fled for safety to elevated areas on the island after huge tidal waves crashed into the village ground yesterday afternoon.

The highest point in the island is understood to be occupied by seven households who were relocated from the old village site in 2020.

Village spokesman Kelepi Saukitoga told The Fiji Times that they were hit by three tidal waves.

He said the whole village ground was underwater.

“It was shocking and the villagers were terrified,” he said.

Saukitoga said they heard rumbling sounds before the tidal waves crashed through their homes.

“We had to chase the children and everyone in the village to higher grounds for safety. Everyone was terrified of the events that transpired this afternoon [Saturday].

“We understand that this was caused by the volcanic eruption in Tonga.”

Luke Nacei is a Fiji Times journalist. Republished with permission.

The village of Narikoso in Kadavu, Fiji, flooded
The village of Narikoso in Kadavu, Fiji, flooded by tidal waves following the volcanic eruption in Tonga on Saturday, 15 January 2022. Image: Fiji Times
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