An undersea volcano erupted in Tonga today, sending tsunami warnings to several South Pacific island nations, and images of waves crashing into residents’ homes were posted on social media.
Tsunamis were observed in the capitals of Tonga and American Samoa, according to the US Tsunami Warning Center.
The eruption at 06:10 Greek time of the underwater volcano Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Khapai, about 65 km north of Nukwalofa, the capital of Tonga, caused a 1.2-meter tsunami, according to the Australian Meteorological Service. The agency said it continued to monitor the situation, but there were no tsunami warnings in Australia.
BREAKING: Large eruption at Tonga’s Hunga volcano, tsunami warning in effect pic.twitter.com/82qnF9o4PF
— BNO News (@BNONews) January 15, 2022
According to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, 83-centimeter waves were recorded in places in Nukvalof and waves of about 60 centimeters in Pango Pago, the capital of American Samoa.
The US military said in a statement it issued a “tsunami warning” for Samoa and Hawaii, but “a tsunami warning was issued for areas near the volcano.”
Fiji has issued a tsunami warning, urging residents to stay away from coastal areas “because of strong currents and dangerous waves.”
Tonga’s Hunga Tonga volcano just had one of the most violent volcano eruptions ever captured on satellite. pic.twitter.com/M2D2j52gNn
— US Stormwatch (@US_Stormwatch) January 15, 2022
Fiji One journalist Jesse Tuisinu tweeted a video showing large waves hitting the shores as citizens try to drive away in their cars. “It’s night in some parts of Tonga and people are trying to find safe shelter after the explosion,” he said.
In New Zealand, the National Emergency Management Agency has issued a sea level rise warning on the north and east coasts, noting strong and unusual currents and unpredictable waves are expected in some areas.
The volcano erupted on Friday, spewing ash and gas to a height of 20 kilometers, the Geological Survey of Tonga said on Facebook.
Can literally hear the volcano eruption, sounds pretty violent. pic.twitter.com/gX6z2lSJWf
— Dr Faka’iloatonga Taumoefolau (@sakakimoana) January 15, 2022