SACRAMENTO, Calif. — An underwater volcanic eruption near the Oceania country of Tonga sent tsunami waves that could be felt as far away as the United States.
And as the eruption appeared to have caused significant damage to Tonga's main communications infrastructures, family and friends in the Sacramento area anxiously await news from the loved ones on the island.
"There’s nothing else to do, but just to pray," said Pastor Tui Finau, leading his members at the Tongan Seventh Day Adventist Church in South Sacramento.
"They have brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews, and no contact. That's the saddest part of this," Finau said.
"I haven't heard from my niece, and she always called me at lunch," said Ma'ukava Palavi, a member of the First Tongan Taulangau United Methodist Church in Oak Park.
"So I went to check, and she was on Facebook with a big question mark, 'what is going on,'" but with no answer.
Palavi started asking relatives in New Zealand and Australia if they had heard from anyone on the island, but she said conversations were abruptly cut off.
"We still haven't been able to speak with anybody, that's the most scary part," Palavi said.
Meanwhile, the congregations of Tongans are coming together to sing gospel hymns and pray with one another.
"We believe that there's a god out there and he will be there," Finau said.