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Volcano eruption causes tsunami and flooding up to 10,000km away from its source near Tonga

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A massive undersea volcanic eruption that triggered a 7.4 magnitude earthquake near Tonga has caused tsunami waves and extensive flooding up to 10,000km away from the epicentre.

Lasting eight minutes, the eruption could be heard as ‘loud thunder sounds’ in Fiji, more than 800km away, officials in the capital Suva said. 

The effect of the volcanic eruption has been felt in New Zealand, the US, Canada and some South American countries.  

Warnings were also triggered for much of the east coast of Australia, Fiji, New Vanuatu, American Samoa, Lord Howe Island, Macquarie Island and Norkfolk Island. 

Waves of up to 1.3metres were recorded in Port San Luis, California and tsunami-effect waves were recorded along the coast in other parts of the state, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia in Canada and in Alaska.

The tsunami has caused widespread flooding in the South American nation of Peru (pictured), which is on the Pacific coast of the continent

Tonga was hit by a second tsunami after the massive undersea Honga Hapai volcanic eruption, flooding homes and triggering warnings as far away as Australia, Japan, and the US.

The country’s consulate has spoken of the devastation it has experienced.  

‘This is incredibly sad. The damage being done to the Kingdom of Tonga is extreme,’ the consulate wrote on Twitter. ‘The people of Kingdom are strong. Sending prayers to Tonga. Ofa lahi atu.’

There are reports of severe damage to communications on the island.

The tsunami forced people to flee after the volcanic eruption was heard as a series of massive booms across several Pacific islands. 

Professor Shane Cronin, a volcanologist at the University of Auckland, said the eruption was one of the biggest in Tonga in the past 30 years.

‘This is a pretty big event – it’s one of the more significant eruptions of the last decade at least,’ he told the BBC.

‘The most remarkable thing about it is how rapidly and violently it’s spread. This one was larger, a much wider lateral spread, much more ash was produced. 

A second tsunami has hit the Pacific island nation of Tonga after the eruption of the Honga Hapai volcano

A second tsunami has hit the Pacific island nation of Tonga after the eruption of the Honga Hapai volcano 

‘I expect there to be many centimetres of ash that have been deposited on Tonga.’ 

Pictures have been tweeted of children sleeping in tents in Tonga after being evacuated from their homes because of the tsunami. 

One resident, Mere Taufa, said the eruption had hit as her family was preparing for dinner, and her younger brother thought bombs were exploding nearby.

‘My first instinct was to take cover under the table, I grabbed my little sister, and screamed at my parents and others in the house to do the same,’ New Zealand news site Stuff.co.nz quoted her as saying.

Part of the devastation the two tsunamis have caused in Tonga is pictured from the deck of a fishing boat

Part of the devastation the two tsunamis have caused in Tonga is pictured from the deck of a fishing boat

Ms Taufa said the next thing she knew, water was rushing into their home.

‘You could just hear screams everywhere, people screaming for safety, for everyone to get to higher ground,’ she said.

The Australian government said no Australians were injured in Tonga, but the eruption has led to a major surf event in Sydney being cancelled on Sunday.

Health minister Greg Hunt said no Australians have been injured following the tsunami in Tonga. 

Injuries on Tonga are currently unknown with disruptions to communications.  

Children sleeping in a tent in Tonga after being evacuated from their homes because of the tsunami on the island

Children sleeping in a tent in Tonga after being evacuated from their homes because of the tsunami on the island

Mr Hunt said foreign minister Marise Payne and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) are working with Tongan authorities.

‘DFAT will continue to engage with the Tongan Government and has offered through the foreign minister all possible support that may be required,’ Mr Hunt told reporters in Canberra.

In New Zealand, a dock was torn apart in a marina at Tutukaka on the North Island on Sunday after waves from the volcanic eruption swept in. 

The marina and some campgrounds in Northland were evacuated due to the surge which caused ‘significant damage’, sinking a number of boats and badly damaging others.  

New Zealand’s emergency management agency issued an advisory on tsunami activity for its north and east coasts.

A dock (pictured) is torn apart by surging waters in a marina at Tutukaka, New Zealand, Sunday, January 16, 2022

A dock (pictured) is torn apart by surging waters in a marina at Tutukaka, New Zealand, Sunday, January 16, 2022

The areas, 2,300 kilometres from Tonga’s volcano, were experienced strong and unusual currents, and unpredictable surges at the shore.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, said images of the violent volcanic eruption near Tonga are ‘hugely concerning’. 

‘[Our] defence force team and Ministry of Foreign Affairs are working as we speak to establish what’s needed and how we can help,’ Ms Ardern said on a social media post. 

New Zealand telecommunications companies 2degrees and Spark are offering to waive all fees for those trying to phone friends and family in Tonga.

2degrees announced on social media on Sunday afternoon that it is waiving costs for landline and mobile voice calls and texts between Tonga and New Zealand until midnight on Sunday, January 23.

The 8.10am tsunami-affected wave (pictured) at Santa Cruz in  northern California, America, on January 15, 2022

The 8.10am tsunami-affected wave (pictured) at Santa Cruz in  northern California, America, on January 15, 2022

Fiji also issued a tsunami warning, urging residents to avoid the shorelines ‘due to strong currents and dangerous waves’.

The Fijian government issued a tsunami advisory and opened evacuation centres for people in coastal areas. 

Vanuatu, another island nation in the Pacific, issued a similar warning. 

In the US, despite the dire warnings, spectators flocked to beaches to view the surging tsunami waves, and some surfers threw caution to the wind to catch them. 

In Santa Cruz, video showed significant flooding near the harbour, with at least one vehicle caught in the surge. 

People (pictured) evacuate the coastline in Chile following a tsunami preventive advisory issued by the South American nation

People (pictured) evacuate the coastline in Chile following a tsunami preventive advisory issued by the South American nation

People evacuate from the Pacific coastline in La Serena, Chile following a tsunami warning on January 15, 2022

People evacuate from the Pacific coastline in La Serena, Chile following a tsunami warning on January 15, 2022

In Japan the authorities warned of waves as high as three metres. A 1.2m tsunami was recorded in the Kominato district of Amami-Oshima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture at 11.55pm on Saturday (1.55am AEST).

The tsunami also reached South America and caused serious flooding in Peru on the west coast of the continent. 

The Chilean coast of Los Rios, almost 10,000km from Tonga, was also been affected. 

Chilean beaches were left empty after a mass evacuation along its extensive coastline, which stretches more than half the length of the continent’s west coast 

A worker removes beach chairs after mass evacuation from the coastline in Chile, following a tsunami preventive advisory

A worker removes beach chairs after mass evacuation from the coastline in Chile, following a tsunami preventive advisory

Chile’s National Emergency Management Authority issued a tsunami warning in three regions of the country following the eruption of the Honga Hapai volcano in Tonga.

‘Based on the new assessments, the Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service of the Chilean Navy has declared a tsunami threat to coastal areas in the Los Lagos region,’ it wrote on Twitter.

‘The threat of a tsunami has also been announced in the regions of Coquimbo and Los Rios.’

The Chilean authorities urged citizens to leave coastal areas and move to higher ground. 

An empty beach is pictured after mass evacuation from the coastline in Chile, following a tsunami preventive advisory generated by local authorities, after an underwater volcano eruption on the island of Tonga

An empty beach is pictured after mass evacuation from the coastline in Chile, following a tsunami preventive advisory generated by local authorities, after an underwater volcano eruption on the island of Tonga

In Peru, the authorities reassured the public that what was happening was not a tsunami. 

After fellow South American countries with Pacific coastlines, such as Chile and Ecuador were put on alert after the Tongan volcanic eruption, several videos on San Bartolo beach in Peru showed the sea receding, alarming swimmers.  

‘After an analysis and evaluation through the National Tsunami Warning Center of this Directorate, it is reported that this event does not generate a tsunami on the Peruvian coast,’ the Directorate of Hydrography and Navigation of the Peruvian Navy said in a statement.

People (pictured) look towards the ocean at a beach after a mass evacuation from the coastline in Chile on January 15, 2022

People (pictured) look towards the ocean at a beach after a mass evacuation from the coastline in Chile on January 15, 2022

Lorena Márquez Ísmodes, the head of Peru’s National Tsunami Warning Centre, said there is no tsunami warning in Peru, despite that being the case in other coastal South American countries.

‘There is no tsunami alert, there has been a volcanic eruption in Tonga. This impact has traveled throughout the Pacific Ocean, but the population should not be alarmed,’ he told TV station Canal N.  

However, Mr Márquez said that in Chile, where there is a tsunami warning, the situation is different.

‘In Chile they issued a precautionary alert, but they have wave amplitudes between 20 and 30 centimeters. The wave (in that country) can arrive in a different way than we do,’ he said. 

An empty beach is pictured after a mass evacuation from the coastline in Chile, a South American country on the Pacific coast

An empty beach is pictured after a mass evacuation from the coastline in Chile, a South American country on the Pacific coast



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