A giant underwater volcanic eruption has caused a tsunami wave to strike Tonga, causing damage to buildings and homes. RNZ Pacific reports the waves were up to 80 centimeters high – 2.6 feet – and have been sweeping through the region. The Bureau of Meteorology in New Zealand is monitoring the situation. Until a specific threat has been identified, the government is advising residents to prepare for a possible evacuation.
A tsunami advisory has been issued by the United States’ Pacific Tsunami Warning Center following the eruption of an underwater volcano on Tonga. Local reports indicate that the ash began to fall over Tonga shortly after the eruption. At the time of the alert, there were small tsunami waves affecting the island. The New Zealand National Emergency Management Agency has issued a tsunami advisory for the island.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has issued a tsunami alert for the South Pacific island of Tonga, which is just 65 km (40 miles) north of Fiji. The country’s Bureau of Meteorology is monitoring the situation and there is no tsunami threat for Australia’s mainland or its islands. But the 3.7-foot wave has reportedly wiped out entire cities, including the capital of Nuku’alofa. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reported that tsunami waves reached up to two feet in Pago, the capital of American Samoa. Jese Tuisinu has posted a video of large waves washing ashore.
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The initial eruption lasted eight minutes and sent plumes of ash and gas into the air. People living in coastal areas were warned to evacuate as the waves rose to two feet. Officials on the South Pacific island of Tonga said that tsunami waves could cause significant damage to homes and buildings. Tsunamis have been a regular threat since the 1880s, but the currents in the area have made the situation tense.
1.14.2022: (correction on date) Large volcanic eruption near Tonga (Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano) today as seen from outer space. Shown on visible imagery using the Himawari satellite. #hiwx #tsunami #earthquake pic.twitter.com/Y18W7wvXl9
— NWSHonolulu (@NWSHonolulu) January 15, 2022
The explosion in Tonga caused tsunami warnings for Fiji, New Zealand and American Samoa. In the meantime, the Fijian Government has opened evacuation centres and schools to protect the island from the tidal waves. A video of the crashing waves was shared on social media. While the warnings were canceled, many residents were advised to leave the area.
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The erupting volcano sent ash up to 260 km into the atmosphere and caused a tsunami. Parts of Tonga’s north and east coasts are under a tsunami advisory and are urged to stay away from the shores and beaches until 4am Sunday. Tsunami alerts also cover other countries such as New Zealand. The earthquake is not expected to cause any significant damage in the islands.