Sunday, January 16, 2022

"Pray for us" Heavy volcanic eruption in the island nation of Tonga triggers tsunami

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Volcanic eruption in the Pacific: the authorities warn of flooding, there are reports of waves two meters high. Residents are encouraged to move to higher ground.

The eruption of a submarine volcano in the South Pacific has triggered a tsunami in the region, according to the US Tsunami Warning Center. Tidal waves with a height of around 60 centimeters were measured, the authority said on Saturday. A tsunami warning was issued for all of Tonga on Saturday. Local media reported that tidal waves had inundated properties. It had rained ash and telephone connections had failed. According to media reports, Tonga’s King Tupou VI. brought to safety from the royal palace in the capital Nuku’alofa.

Impressive satellite images show the gigantic eruption on the ocean and its consequences for people. Watch the video above or here.

The extent of the damage was initially unclear. The Australian meteorological authority spoke of a tsunami height of 1.2 meters. Experts reported on Twitter two-meter high waves in Nuku’alofa, the capital of Tonga.

The trigger for the tidal waves is a violent eruption of the underwater volcano Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai. The volcano had already catapulted ash, steam and gas up to 20 kilometers into the air on Friday. Ash also rained down on Nuku’alofa. Another eruption is said to have occurred on Saturday morning, 20 minutes later the tsunami flooded houses, streets and cars in Tonga. Siren alarms were sounded in coastal towns.

“It was huge, the ground was shaking, our house was shaking,” a resident of the capital told the Stuff news portal. “It came in waves, my younger brother thought there were bombs going off nearby.” Locals called on people to “pray for us”.

Authorities in other Pacific countries also issued tsunami warnings, including Fiji, Samoa and New Zealand. Residents should avoid the coasts “due to strong currents and dangerous waves,” Fiji said. A TV reporter from Fiji posted a video on Twitter showing smaller tidal waves hitting land and people fleeing to safety in their cars. No warning was issued for Australia. The authorities in New Zealand had said they would monitor the situation.

The people of Tonga have been urged to leave the beaches and go to higher ground. Beach residents retreated to their rooftops and filmed large waves hitting their homes.

A warning was first issued for American Samoa, but was then lifted. Based on the available data, it can be assumed that the tsunami danger is over, but that there could still be fluctuations in sea level, it said.

Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai has been on and off since December. The volcano is about 30 kilometers southeast of Tonga’s Fonuafo’ou Island (also known as Falcon Island).

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