A submarine volcano erupted nearby Tonga, sending large currents and tsunami warnings across the South Pacific and the United States.
People were forced to flee their homes in the Pacific island nation while streets and buildings were flooded when tsunami waves hit the main island of Tongatapu in Tonga.
A tsunami alert has now been issued for the U.S. West Coast, the National Tsunami Warning Center has confirmed.
The warning covers areas stretching from Southern California to Alaska, and also warns of 1-3 ft waves along the coasts of Washington and Oregon.
The warning means that strong currents and dangerous waves are inevitable and that people should avoid water.
New ZealandThe Emergency Situations Agency issued a tsunami alert for the north and east coasts, saying some parts of the country could expect “strong and unusual currents and unpredictable waves on the coast after a major volcanic eruption.”
Meanwhile, the New Zealand military said it was monitoring the situation and remained on standby. The Australian Federal Government is also “monitoring the situation” and is “ready to provide support to Tonga if requested”.
But so far, there have been no immediate reports of injuries or deaths in Tonga or elsewhere.
The eruption of the Tonga Hung The Ha’apai, about 65 km north of the capital Nuku’alofa, caused a tsunami measuring 1.2 meters. Australia ‘from the Bureau of Meteorology said.
The Tongan Meteorological Service said a tsunami alert had been issued for the entire country, with data from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center showing 80 cm waves.
Authorities in nearby island nations of Fiji and Samoa have also issued warnings and instructed people to avoid the coast due to dangerous waves. The Japan Meteorological Agency said water could swell off Japan’s coast, but it was not expected to cause any damage.
Tsunami waves measuring 2 meters in height also occurred American Samoa after a volcanic eruption.
In a statement, the Honolulu Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said that “according to all available data, there is a threat to American Samoa due to sea level fluctuations and strong ocean currents that could be dangerous along beaches, in ports and coastal waters.”
A Tongan business news website reported that a convoy of police and military units evacuated King Tupou VI of the island from his palace near the coast and took him to higher ground.
Shane Cronin, a professor of volcanology at the University of Auckland, said the volcanic eruption is one of the largest since 1100 AD and noted that Tongans should be wary of further eruptions of the same magnitude.
“Past Hung outbreaks have been comparable to the scale we saw at the event on January 15, 2022 or more,” he said. “Based on these past events, tefra [ash] In Tongatap and the Ha’apai group of islands, drops up to 20 cm thick can be expected.
“Geological sediments at the Hunga Ha’apai eruptions of AD1000 and AD200 indicate that there were many eruptive phases during each of the major eruption episodes.”
He added: “This suggests that the current episode of the outbreak could last for weeks or months and that further outbreaks of a similar magnitude as the January 15, 2022 event are possible.”
Twitter user identified as dr. Faka’iloatonga Taumoefolau, has released a video showing the waves crashing against the shore. “I literally hear the eruption of the volcano, it sounds pretty violent,” he wrote.
In a later tweet, he added: “It’s raining ashes and tiny pebbles, darkness covers the sky.”
In late 2014 and early 2015, a series of outbreaks in the area created a small new island and interrupted an international air trip to the Pacific archipelago for a few days.