The Pacific island of Tonga experienced a major volcanic eruption on Saturday, followed by a tsunami that flooded parts of the capital Nuku’alofa.
The wave reached a height of 2.7 feet (83 centimeters) in Nuku’alofa, according to the US-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. There is no information yet on material damage or casualties.
Social media from Tonga shows that the tsunami is breaking through the coastline and moving into the city.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said tsunami waves 2 feet high were detected by sea level gauges in Pago Pago, the capital of the U.S. Territory of American Samoa, about 940 kilometers (580 miles) from Tonga.
Officials there initially issued a tsunami warning, telling residents to evacuate “immediately” to higher elevations. The warning was withdrawn shortly afterwards.
Fiji also issued a tsunami warning, telling residents to avoid coastlines “due to strong currents and dangerous waves.”
New Zealand, more than 2,000 kilometers from the eruption site, has also issued a tsunami advisory.
New Zealand’s National Emergency Management Agency said parts of the country can expect “strong and unusual currents and unpredictable waves off the coast”.
Undersea volcano erupts
Saturday’s eruption was the latest in a series from Hunga Tonga’s submarine, Hunga Ha’apai volcano. Saturday’s eruption is the second in just two days.
An earlier eruption on Friday sent plumes of ash and smoke into the air, with clouds of smoke extending up to 20 kilometers (12 miles) into the atmosphere.
The volcano showed some intermittent activity in December last year. On Friday, officials advised people to stay at home and protect drinking water and resources.
rm/wmr (AP, Reuters)