Tsunami warnings for an underwater volcano in Tonga

Tonumeia island, Ha'apai group, Tonga

Tonumeia island, Ha'apai group, Tonga. Photo: Dr Scott Mills. CC BY-SA 2.0.

The eruption of a volcano in the Tonga islands originated this Saturday tsunami warnings throughout the South Pacific to the west coast of the United States, where at 15:33 pm waves of 45 centimeters were recorded with epicenter in California, while Japan reported that a tsunami with risk of waves of up to three meters reached its coast and Chile ordered the resident population in the north of the country to move away from the coast.

Inhabitants of the Tonga islands fled to the highlands in the face of the new eruption of a volcano in Nuku’alofa, the capital of the small Pacific Ocean archipelago, according to local authorities.

Similar warnings were issued in New Zealand, Fiji, Vanuatu, Australia and Chile, where the National Emergency Office warned of the possibility of a “minor tsunami” reaching Easter Island.

Meanwhile, a tsunami with a risk of waves of up to three meters reached the coast of Japan, hours after the strong volcanic eruption in the Tonga islands, informed the Japanese meteorological agency.

According to the report, the tsunami, measuring 1.2 meters, hit the southern island of Amami at 23:55 pm on Saturday, while a tsunami of lesser amplitude could be observed in other parts of the country’s coastline.

Through images taken from space, it was possible to observe the moment when the eruption sent a mushroom of smoke and ash into the air and a shockwave through the surrounding sea, the AFP news agency reported.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology said a 1.2-meter tsunami wave had been observed in Tonga’s capital.

“It was a massive explosion,” one resident, Mere Taufa, who was at home preparing dinner, told the news site Stuff. “The ground shook, the whole house was shaking. It was coming in waves. My younger brother thought bombs were exploding near our house,” she told AFP.

The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano is located on an uninhabited island about 65 kilometers north of Nuku’alofa, the capital of Tonga.

-Thailand News (TN)

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