Tsunami threat from undersea volcano eruption in Tonga has now 'passed'

WION Web Team
New Delhi, India Updated: Jan 16, 2022, 12:25 PM(IST)

(L) A Planet SkySat image shows a plume of smoke rising from the underwater volcano Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai days before its eruption on January 15. Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement that the images of the volcanic eruption in close proximity to Tonga are "hugely concerning"

Tsunami warnings were issued after a dramatic underwater volcano erupted off Tonga on Saturday (January 15). Advisories and evacuation orders were also issued on the shores of Tonga as well as several South Pacific islands. As circulated on social media forums, footage from such areas showed waves crashing into coastal homes.

In the latest update, the tsunami threat from a powerful Tonga volcano eruption has passed, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said on Sunday, after powerful waves flooded coastlines from Japan to the United States.

"Based on all available data, the tsunami threat from this volcanic eruption has now passed," the PTWC said at 0300 GMT, adding authorities at "impacted coastal areas should monitor... to determine when it is safe to resume normal activities"

The massive explosion of the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha'apai volcano was the latest in a series of eruptions. The satellite images showed the undersea volcanic eruption sending smoke and ash into the air.  

So far, there is no report of injuries or damage but in the aftermath, the phone lines and internet services have been impacted as many parts of Tonga are reportedly covered in ash and facing a near-total blackout. Tonga's capital is just 65km south of where the eruption took place.  

Tsunami advisories

According to Australia's Bureau of Meteorology, a tsunami wave measuring 1.2 metres was observed in Tonga's capital Nuku'alofa and tsunami advisories were issued for other South Pacific islands. 

Tsunami advisories were issued for Hawaii, Alaska and the Pacific coast of the United States and Chile. Later, in some parts, the advisories were subsequently lifted. 

A tsunami advisory was also in effect for the US and Canadian Pacific coast, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Honolulu said. The National Weather Service said tsunami waves along the Oregon and southern Washington coast were expected imminently.

As reported by Reuters, high waves were reported in Alaska and Hawaii earlier. In the San Francisco Bay Area of northern California, small parts of the cities of Berkeley and Albany near the bay were ordered to evacuate.

Also, warnings of dangerous ocean waves were issued as far away as the US West Coast, parts of New Zealand and Japan, with authorities issuing advisories for people on their Pacific coastlines to get away from the shore as a precaution.  

The Japan Meteorological Agency said the tsunami reached the country's Pacific coast with waves as high as three meters possible. The agency said that a 1.2-metre wave reached the remote southern island of Amami Oshima and other areas. 

Chile's National Emergency Office ordered the evacuation of several coastal regions Saturday due to a minor Tsunami warning reported by the Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service of the Navy (SHOA).


New Zealand PM reacts

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement on Instagram: "The images of the volcanic eruption in close proximity to Tonga are hugely concerning." New Zealand is located about 1,481 miles from Tonga. 

"Communication as a result of the eruption has been difficult, but our defence force team and Ministry of Foreign Affairs are working as we speak to establish what's needed and how we can help," she said.

The New Zealand foreign ministry said there were no reports of injuries or deaths as yet but communications were limited.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Pacific Office in Suva, Fiji said it was monitoring the situation and had no updates on damages or casualties.



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