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Undersea volcano continues erupting

Published: 6:18PM Thursday March 19, 2009 Source: ONE News

Nature's power was on full display off the coast of Tonga when a massive undersea volcano erupted, sending plumes of hot ash and smoke into the air.

The eruption started on Monday, after several earthquakes were felt on the Tongan mainland, 10 kilometres away.

The volcanic eruption was not too much of a surprise though. There are around 36 underwater volcanoes that cluster the area of the eruption.

Boaties who were close by when the eruption took place talked of burning birds falling from the sky.

One of those, a recreational fisherman Lotar Sloban, originally from Germany, said he journeyed out with friends to witness the dramatic explosions at what used to be his favourite fishing spot.

"It looked so massive, close, when it pressed forward to the boat you know it was just amazing, amazing," said Sloban.

He too confirmed seeing burning sea birds falling from the sky.

Also reported is that wildlife from the island closest to the eruption have been completely destroyed.

There is no immediate threat to the main island of Tonga-Tapu though, with the wind blowing the ash away from the land and no sign of any tsunami either.

But with the ash rising to 15,000 metres, airlines have been sent out a warning as ash can cause engines to fail.

Air New Zealand has had to divert the flight paths of two of its planes to avoid the ash plume.

Tongan officials are warning people to stay well away as possible from the volcano, until it calms down in the next few days.