Undersea volcano erupts off Tonga coast

An undersea volcano erupted off the coast of Tonga shooting clouds of smoke, steam and ash thousands of meters into the sky above the South Pacific ocean, officials said Wednesday. Spectacular columns spewed out of the sea about 10 kilometers from the southwest coast off the main island of Tongatapu - an area where up to 36 undersea volcanoes are clustered, said Tonga's geological service head, Keleti Mafi. "It's a very significant eruption, on quite a large scale," he told The Associated Press. There was no sign the offshore eruption posed any danger to residents, he said, with trade winds blowing gas and steam away from the island.