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Published: 17:47, January 15, 2022 | Updated: 17:49, January 15, 2022
Tsunami hits Tonga after underwater volcano erupts
By Reuters
Published:17:47, January 15, 2022 Updated:17:49, January 15, 2022 By Reuters

This photo taken from the Facebook page of Tonga Geological Services shows geologists looking at plumes coming from the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano on Jan 14, 2022.

An underwater volcano off Tonga erupted on Saturday triggering a tsunami warning for several South Pacific island nations, with footage on social media showing waves crashing into homes.

Tsunami waves were observed in Tonga's capital and the capital of American Samoa, a US-based tsunami monitor said.

The eruption at 0410 GMT of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai underwater volcano, located about 65 km north of Nuku'alofa, caused a 1.2 meter tsunami, Australia's Bureau of Meteorology said.

The eruption at 0410 GMT of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai underwater volcano, located about 65 km north of Nuku'alofa, caused a 1.2 meter tsunami, Australia's Bureau of Meteorology said

The agency said it continued to monitor the situation but no tsunami threat had been issued to the Australian mainland, islands or territories.

READ MORE: 'No warning': Indonesian village caught off guard in volcano disaster

Tsunami waves of 2.7 feet (83 cm) were observed by gauges at the Tongan capital of Nuku’alofa and waves of 2 ft at Pago Pago, the capital of American Samoa, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.

Fiji issued a tsunami warning, urging residents to avoid the shorelines "due to strong currents and dangerous waves."

Jese Tuisinu, a television reporter at Fiji One, posted a video on Twitter showing large waves washing ashore, with people trying to flee from the oncoming waves in their cars. "It is literally dark in parts of Tonga and people are rushing to safety following the eruption," he said.

The US-based monitor later canceled the warning for the US territory of American Samoa.

Tsunami waves measuring 2 feet in height were observed by sea-level gauges at the capital of the US territory of American Samoa following volcanic activity in Tonga, the U.S. monitor said.

The tsunami threat continues and sea level fluctuations and strong ocean currents pose hazards along beaches in harbors, it said.

ALSO READ: Indonesia volcano erupts again as death toll rises to 22

New Zealand's emergency management agency issued an advisory on tsunami activity for its north and east coasts with the areas expected to experience strong and unusual currents, and unpredictable surges at the shore.

On Friday, the volcano sent ash, steam and gas up to 20 km ino the air, Tonga Geological Services said in a Facebook post. It has a radius of 260 km .

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