- The massive eruption of an undersea volcano near the island of Tonga caused a tsunami in the Pacific Ocean.
- Tsunami waves were recorded not only in Tonga but also in New Zealand, Japan and Fiji. Flooding in Santa Cruz, California, has also been attributed to the outbreak.
- Most tsunami warnings have been cancelled. The exact extent of the damage is not yet known. Impressive photos spread on social media.
The neighboring island kingdom of Tonga appears to be particularly affected by the tidal waves caused by the eruption of an undersea volcano. Buildings were destroyed, communication severely disrupted.
On Sunday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said there were no official reports of injuries or deaths in Tonga. The United States and the United Nations promised assistance.
The eruption of the Hongga-Tonga-Hong-Haapai volcano under the sea off Tonga on Saturday raised tsunami warnings in many parts of the Pacific Ocean. People have been urged to stay away from coastal areas.
Ardern said the tsunami “has hit hard” on the northern side of Nuku’alofa, the capital of Tonga. According to the Australian Meteorological Service, the wave height was 1.2 metres. Ardern said boats and rocks were washed ashore and buildings were damaged.
Tonga was covered in volcanic dust as a result of the volcanic eruption, and communication links with the island kingdom in the South Pacific were restricted by undersea cable damage. In Tonga, local media reported ash rains, submerging homes and cutting telephone and electricity connections.
Ardern said authorities are working to restore contacts as quickly as possible. For now, “unfortunately you don’t get much information from the outer islands (…). Tonga’s water supply is a priority. The New Zealand Defense Force will attempt to launch a reconnaissance flight on Monday.”
Ash was seen at an altitude of about 20 kilometers, which currently makes flying unsafe. A warship was also put on standby to assist if needed. According to media reports, the sixth king of Tonga Tubu. He was brought to safety from the royal palace in the capital, Nuku’alofa.
Tide waves in Japan and New Zealand
As Japanese media reported early Sunday morning (local time), tsunami waves about one meter high were recorded on the coast of northeastern Iwate Prefecture and in the southwest of Amami. There were initially no reports of damage or injuries. Residents have been urged to exercise extreme caution until the tsunami warning is lifted.
Japan: More than 200,000 people have been called to evacuate
230,000 people in eight prefectures in Japan were called for evacuation on Sunday
Since the tsunami waves hit coastal areas more than one meter in height. This was reported by Japanese public broadcaster NHK. The warning was lifted later on Sunday.
Tsunami waves were also reported from New Zealand, where several boats sank in Northland Marina after a 1.3-meter tsunami. Shirana Ali, executive director of Save the Children Fiji, said Fiji and Vanuatu were affected by the tidal waves. There was damage in coastal areas, but there were no deaths.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “deeply concerned”. The United Nations is monitoring the situation closely and stands ready to provide support. “The United States stands ready to provide support to our Pacific neighbors,” US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken wrote on Twitter.
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