Footage is emerging of the terrifying events after a huge undersea volcanic eruption pitched the Pacific island nation of Tonga into darkness.
In a video posted on Facebook, Nightingale Filihia was sheltering at her family's home from a rain of volcanic ash and tiny pieces of rock that turned the sky pitch black.
"It's really bad. They told us to stay indoors and cover our doors and windows because it's dangerous," she said. "I felt sorry for the people. Everyone just froze when the explosion happened. We rushed home."
Outside the house, people could be seen carrying umbrellas for protection.
Communications with Tonga remained extremely limited. The company that owns the single underwater fibre-optic cable that connects the island nation to the rest of the world said it likely was severed in the eruption and repairs could take weeks.
The loss of the cable leaves most Tongans unable to use the internet or make phone calls abroad. Those that have managed to get messages out described their country as looking like a moonscape as they began cleaning up from the tsunami waves and volcanic ash fall.
A British woman who was missing has been found dead, her family said, in the first reported fatality.
The brother of Angela Glover, who ran an animal rescue centre, said the 50-year-old died after being swept away by a wave. Nick Eleini said his sister's body had been found and that her husband survived.
"I understand that this terrible accident came about as they tried to rescue their dogs," Eleini told Sky News. He said it had been his sister's life dream to live in the South Pacific and "she loved her life there".
Tsunami waves of about 80cm crashed into Tonga's shoreline following the eruption, damaging boats and shops on Tonga's shoreline.
The waves crossed the Pacific, drowning two people in Peru and causing minor damage from New Zealand to Santa Cruz, California.
Dave Snider, the tsunami warning coordinator for the National Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, Alaska, said it was very unusual for a volcanic eruption to affect an entire ocean basin, and the spectacle was both "humbling and scary".
The US Geological Survey estimated the eruption caused the equivalent of a magnitude 5.8 earthquake. Scientists said tsunamis generated by volcanoes rather than earthquakes are relatively rare.
Rachel Afeaki-Taumoepeau, who chairs the New Zealand Tonga Business Council, said she hoped the relatively low level of the tsunami waves would have allowed most people to get to safety, although she worried about those living on islands closest to the volcano.
"We are praying that the damage is just to infrastructure and people were able to get to higher land," she said.
The explosion of the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha'apai volcano, about 64km north of Nuku'alofa, was the latest in a series of dramatic eruptions.
In late 2014 and early 2015, eruptions created a small new island and disrupted international air travel to the Pacific archipelago for several days.
Earth-imaging company Planet Labs PBC had watched the island in recent days after a new volcanic vent began erupting in late December.
Satellite images showed how drastically the volcano had shaped the area, creating a growing island off Tonga.