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Seattle residents await word from relatives in Tonga following underwater eruption, tsunami

By all accounts, internet and phone connectivity has been ruptured for the entire nation of slightly more than 100,000 people.

SEATTLE — It's hard to believe that in a world where satellites almost immediately showed images of a massive volcanic eruption near Tonga, the tsunami waves it prompted traveled faster than information from the small island nation.

On Monday, more than 48 hours after the eruption that prompted a West Coast tsunami advisory, local members of the Tongan community say they don't know what has happened to their family members on the small island nation.

"It is so hard not to be able to know, the unknown," said Latu Huakau, who works for the Voice of the South Pacific, a small news and information outlet based out of White Center.   

RELATED: First fatality from Tonga volcano eruption identified

Her friend and colleague Sylvia Aho sat next to her, scrolling her phone.  

"It is very, very difficult, because there is no connection so what we're getting is second hand news," she said.  

By all accounts, internet and phone connectivity has been ruptured for the entire nation of slightly more than 100,000 people.

Both Huakau and Aho said they've been watching TV out of New Zealand for any news about a flyover of the damage, a possibility made more problematic because of the 10-hour roundtrip between Tonga and New Zealand and the word that the runways are covered in deep ash.

RELATED: Military flights sent to assess damage in Tonga after Pacific volcano

Huakau said she has aunties, uncles and cousins in Tonga, but has no idea about their current situation. Aho has a similar story.

They now both wait, watch, and plot their next move.

"It's the unknown," said Huakau.

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