The Pacific island of Tonga experienced a large volcanic eruption Saturday followed by a tsunami that flooded parts of the capital, Nuku’alofa.
The surge wave reached a height of 2.7 feet (83 centimeters) in Nuku’alofa, according to the US-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. There is no information yet on property damage or casualties.
Images posted on social media from Tonga showed the tsunami breach the shoreline, and move into the town.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said tsunami waves measuring 2 feet in height were observed by sea-level gauges in Pago Pago, the capital of the US territory of American Samoa, around 940 kilometers (580 miles) from Tonga.
Officials there initially issued a tsunami warning, and told residents to “immediately” evacuate to higher ground. The warning was lifted shortly thereafter.
Fiji also issued a tsunami warning, telling residents to avoid shorelines “due to strong currents and dangerous waves.”
New Zealand, more than 2,000 kilometers away from the site of the eruption, has also issued a tsunami advisory.
New Zealand’s National Emergency Management Agency said parts of the country could expect “strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges at the shore.”
Undersea volcano erupts
The eruption Saturday was the latest in a series from the undersea Hunga Tonga, Hunga Ha’apai volcano. Saturday’s eruption is the second in only two days.
A previous eruption on Friday sent plumes of ash and smoke into the air, with smoke clouds extending up to 20 kilometers (12 miles) into the atmosphere.
The volcano had showed some intermittent activity through December last year. On Friday, people were advised by officials to stay home and protect drinking water and resources.
rm/wmr (AP, Reuters)