In its first statement since the eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano on Saturday, Tonga confirmed the deaths of at least three people, including a British woman, saying the Pacific island nation is facing an “unprecedented disaster”. “As a result of the eruption, a volcanic mushroom plume was released reaching the stratosphere and extending radially covering all Tonga Island, generating tsunami waves rising up to 15 metres” the statement said. All houses on Mango Island – where a distress signal had been detected – had been destroyed and only two remained standing on Fonoifua, while there was extensive damage on Nomuka, it said. Al Jazeera reports that attempts to respond to the disaster are also being hampered by communication problems after the eruption severed the islands’ undersea cable, and by thick ash covering the runway on the country’s main airport.