An underwater volcano has erupted near Tonga, prompting a tsunami warning for several South Pacific island countries, including Australia and New Zealand.
- Bureau of Meteorology issues tsunami advisory for parts of eastern Australia
- New Zealand issues tsunami advisory for its northern and eastern coasts
- Social media images in Tonga show ashes falling from the sky and large waves washing away the ashes
Videos posted on social media showed large waves washing away the Tongan coastal areas on Saturday, and images showed ash falling from the sky.
The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), which issued a warning for coastal areas in eastern Australia, said the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haapai volcano near Tonga erupted at 3.10 p.m. AEDT on Saturday.
It added that tsunami waves have been observed as a result of the eruption.
“The size of these waves means the threat is to the marine environment off the east coast of Australia, and to land on Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island, although the situation will be closely monitored and updated as necessary,” the BoM said. A warning will be given.” a statement.
“While evacuation is not necessary for Marine Alert Areas, people in these areas are advised to leave the water and move away from the water’s edge immediately.”
Tsunami waves are more powerful than beach waves of similar size, the statement said.
The BoM issued a maritime warning for parts of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.
- QLD: Sandy Cape to Point Danger
- NSW: all coastal areas
- VIC: Lakes Access to Gabo Island
- TAS: Flinders Island to Southeast Cape
The BOM tsunami threat also extends to Macquarie Island, Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island.
New Zealand warning for north and east coasts
New Zealand’s Emergency Management Agency issued an advisory on tsunami activity for its northern and eastern coasts.
Areas located approximately 2,300 kilometers from the volcano were expected to experience strong and unusual currents and unexpected buoyancy along the coast.
Tonga Meteorological Services said a tsunami warning has been issued for the whole of Tonga.
Fiji issued a tsunami warning urging residents to avoid the shoreline “due to strong currents and dangerous waves”.
The US-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said tsunami waves as high as 60 cm were also seen by sea level gauges in Pago Pago, the capital of American Samoa, following volcanic activity in Tonga.
The Tsunami Monitor said in a statement that the threat of tsunamis continues and sea level fluctuations and strong ocean currents pose a threat along beaches in ports.
‘Loud thunder’ heard in Fiji
Authorities in the capital Suva said the eight-minute-long explosion could be heard in Fiji as a “strong rumble” which is more than 800 km away.
Jesse Tuisinu, a television reporter from Fiji Forest, posted a video on Twitter in which large waves wash ashore with people trying to escape in their cars.
“It is really dark in some parts of Tonga and people are running to safer places after the explosion,” he said.
The BoM said the eruption was located about 65 kilometers north of Nuku’alofa, giving a tsunami magnitude of 1.2 metres.
The federal government is “monitoring the situation and” stands ready to provide assistance to Tonga if requested.
“Preliminary assessments are still ongoing and the DFAT is working to ensure that Australians in Tonga are safe and accounted for.”
wire / abc