A giant underwater volcanic eruption has caused tsunami waves to hit the Pacific country of Tonga

Tonga Geological Services said gas smoke and ash plumes reached 20km into the sky when the eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haʻapai volcano occurred at 0410 GMT and the eight-minute initial eruption was heard across the South Pacific, reportedly as far as New Zealand and Australia.

Social media footage and images captured the scene as people fled to safety.

Meanwhile, communications and power were reportedly out across Tonga’s main island.

Here are 10 images and videos showing what took place:

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Satellite image captures Tonga\u2019s Hunga volcano erupting. ScreengrabSatellite image captures Tonga’s Hunga volcano erupting. ScreengrabUSStormWatch / Twitter

Prof Shane Cronin, a volcanologist at the University of Auckland, said the eruption was one of the biggest in Tonga in the past 30 years.

“This is a pretty big event - it’s one of the more significant eruptions of the last decade at least,” he told the BBC.

“The most remarkable thing about it is how rapidly and violently it’s spread. This one was larger, a much wider lateral spread, much more ash was produced. I expect there to be many centimetres of ash that have been deposited on Tonga.”

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