Picture: TONGA GEOLOGICAL SERVICES
Picture: TONGA GEOLOGICAL SERVICES

An underwater volcano off Tonga erupted on Saturday, triggering a tsunami warning for several South Pacific island nations, with footage on social media showing waves crashing into homes.

Tsunami waves were observed in Tonga's capital and the capital of American Samoa, a US-based tsunami monitor said.

The eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai underwater volcano, located about 65km north of Nuku'alofa, caused a 1.2 metre tsunami, Australia's Bureau of Meteorology said.

The agency said it continued to monitor the situation but no tsunami threat had been issued to the Australian mainland, islands or territories.

Tsunami waves of 2.7 feet (83cm) were observed by gauges at the Tongan capital of Nuku’alofa and waves of 2ft at Pago Pago, the capital of American Samoa, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.

The US-based monitor later cancelled warnings for the US territory of American Samoa and Hawaii, but said the tsunami remained a threat for parts of the Pacific nearer the volcano.

Fiji issued a tsunami warning, urging residents to avoid the shorelines “due to strong currents and dangerous waves.”

This is a Public Notice from the Tonga Geological Services monitoring the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai (HTHH) Eruption...

Posted by Tonga Geological Services, Government of Tonga. on Friday, January 14, 2022

Jese Tuisinu, a television reporter at Fiji One, posted a video on Twitter showing large waves washing ashore, with people trying to flee from the oncoming waves in their cars. “It is literally dark in parts of Tonga and people are rushing to safety following the eruption,” he said.

New Zealand's emergency management agency issued an advisory on tsunami activity for its north and east coasts with the areas expected to experience strong and unusual currents, and unpredictable surges at the shore.

On Friday, the volcano sent ash, steam and gas up to 20km into the air, Tonga Geological Services said in a Facebook post. It has a radius of 260km.

Reuters

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