Queensland man Mosese Sitapa was video calling his four-year-old son, Elone, yesterday when the tsunami smashed through their home in Tonga.
He tried to warn his family to get to higher ground but it was too late.
“I just talked to him and he kept playing with his toys. It was so sad,” he said.
He hasn’t heard from Elone or his mother since.
An underwater volcano erupted 65km north of the Tongan capital Nuku’alofa at 4.10pm yesterday afternoon ADST, spurting ash 20km high.
The eruption sparked tsunami warnings around the Pacific, with images from Tonga showing a surge of waves.
The impact cut off communications, leaving Australians desperately worried.
Isabella Fenech, 18, from Newcastle, NSW, was on the phone to her sister at the time, and said she felt “helpless”.
“It was really loud, everything was shaking,” she told 9News.
“It sounded like hail but it was all ash fall and rock and you could hear massive explosions they sounded like fireworks.”
She stayed up all night waiting for news.
In Sydney there has been no word from Reverend Matahavea Hiliau’s sister since yesterday.
Her sister’s home is on the foreshore, and she hopes she got to higher ground.
The Reverend said she was leaving messages, hoping her sister would get internet restored to get in touch.
Reverend Charissa Suli said she’d started a prayer chain.
“Knowing how our families live in Tonga with so little to imagine what they are going through right now, particularly during the night-time,” she said.
Milika Loko-tui is a seasonal worker in Western Australia and is worried about her son
Reverend Matahavea Hiliau from Northern Beaches Uniting Church, said her congregation’s “hearts are with our people in Tonga”.
In South Australia, Mino Sikalu hasn’t heard from her family since yesterday afternoon, when her mother and sister were fleeing to higher ground on the main Island of Tongatapu.
To try and help the community cope a church service was held today.
About 20 local Tongans gathered to pray.
Fijian islands hit by water
Some of Fiji’s islands were hit by a monster tidal surge.
Even hospitals had to be evacuated, with fears for those on low-lying islands.
Some flights from Sydney this morning were cancelled, because of the ash cloud from the eruption.
Australia is sending a surveillance flight from Brisbane tomorrow, with New Zealand also sending planes.