SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 23 January 2022, Sunday |

Tsunami waves hit Tonga following eruption as New Zealand issues national advisory

Large waves washed ashore in Tonga on Saturday after a large volcanic explosion reported in neighboring nations prompted the area’s second tsunami in as many days.

“A 1.2-meter tsunami wave has been observed in Nukualofa,” Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology tweeted. The largest tidal wave measured in the aftermath of Friday’s blast was 30 centimeters.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s national emergency management issued a tsunami warning in the aftermath of the eruption. According to the National Emergency Management Agency, some sections of New Zealand might see “strong and irregular currents and unexpected surges near the beach following a significant volcanic eruption.”

The latest eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano occurred barely hours after the tsunami warning was canceled on Friday.

It lasted at least eight minutes and sent plumes of gas, ash, and smoke many kilometers into the atmosphere. Residents along the shore were advised to seek higher ground.

The explosion was so powerful that it was detected as “strong thunder noises” in Fiji, more than 800 kilometers distant, according to authorities in Suva.

According to Victorina Kioa of the Tonga Public Service Commission, residents should “stay away from areas of warning, which are low-lying coastal regions, reefs, and beaches.”

Taaniela Kula, the chief of Tonga Geological Services, asked residents to stay home, wear masks if they were outside, and cover rainwater reservoirs.

Authorities in neighboring Fiji issued a similar warning, advising people to avoid the coastline owing to high currents and hazardous seas.

According to the Islands Business news site, a convoy of police and military personnel removed Tonga’s King Tupou VI from his residence near the shore. He was one of several residents who fled to higher ground.

The Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano’s outburst was the latest in a sequence of dramatic eruptions.

Faka’iloatonga Taumoefolau, a Twitter user, provided a video of waves slamming onshore.

“I can practically hear the volcanic explosion, it sounds very intense,” he said, later adding, “Raining ash and small stones, darkness blanketing the sky.”

Scientists recorded tremendous explosions, thunder, and lightning around the volcano when it began erupting early Friday, according to the Matangi Tonga news site.

According to the site, satellite photographs showed a five-kilometer-wide cloud of ash, steam, and gas ascending into the air to a height of roughly 20 kilometers.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said late Saturday that the threat to American Samoa appeared to have gone, though small sea fluctuations might remain.

The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano is located on an uninhabited island about 65 kilometers north of Nuku’alofa, the Tongan capital.