Tsunami rocks Tonga island after underwater volcano erupts
Sydney, Australia. The violent eruption of an underwater volcano near Tonga, in the South Pacific, caused tidal waves that hit the coasts of this island nation and also set off alarms in other countries in the region.
The Australian Meteorological Service reported on Twitter that “waves of about 1.2 meters high were recorded in Nuku’alofa”, the capital of Tonga, with a population of 24,500.
Local authorities in Tonga, which has a population of 71,000, have not reported any casualties for the time being, while local media have warned that several parts of the country remain isolated from the outside world.
Hongga-Tonga-Hongga-Hapai volcano, located about 65 kilometers north of Tongatapu island, recorded an eight-minute eruption at about 5:20 p.m. local time, releasing a huge plume of ash kilometers high.
The violent explosion was recorded in satellite images, published by the US island of Hawaii, the weather service.
After about 15 minutes, the stormy waves hit the homes and buildings located on the first line of the northern coast of Tongatapu, according to videos posted by eyewitnesses on social media, and some took refuge on the roofs of their homes. ..
Another recording shows at least five people, including children, sheltering in a local church when water began to hit the windows of the religious complex.
A driver detected a sudden rise of water in flight, destroying walls and fences, while another car tried to avoid falling into the opposite direction.
Radio New Zealand reported scenes of panic as people try to flee into the interior.
The Hongga-Tonga-Hongga-Hapai region already recorded an increase in activity on Friday that temporarily led to another tsunami alert, but that did not translate into higher water levels.
Due to the current state of emergency, Tonga authorities have asked all residents to stay away from beaches and coasts until Sunday and wear a mask in the face of the ash rain.
Unlike tsunamis caused by earthquakes, where tectonic plates discharge their force and a second tsunami is unlikely, a volcano can once again register a violent eruption that will create another fierce tidal wave.
In addition to Tonga, the neighboring island nations of Fiji, Samoa and Vanuatu have also issued a tsunami warning, which threatens up to the coast of New Zealand, more than 2,300 kilometers from the volcano.
More than 100 families have been evacuated from two towns on Samoa’s Savai Island, police said, while photos posted on social media showed waves hitting part of the island of Vanua Levu in northeastern Fiji.
Vanuatu authorities have called for an “immediate evacuation” of coastal areas due to the strong currents and waves.
New Zealand’s Emergency Management Agency said on Twitter that it was expecting “strong currents and unusual and unpredictable inflation” on the north and east coast of the North Island and the Chatham Islands in the oceanic country.
The New Zealand military said it was monitoring the situation and was on alert and ready to act if necessary.
In late 2014 and early 2015, a series of volcanic eruptions in the area created a new small island and disrupted air traffic with the archipelago for several days.