EM – Tsunami warning for parts of New Zealand, waves hit Tonga

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Waves have hit Tonga’s main island, Tongatapu, following an eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai underwater volcano. Photo: Tonga Geological

After a violent eruption of the underwater volcano Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai in Tonga this afternoon, parts of New Zealand are now also under a tsunami warning.

The warning for the north and east coast of the North Island and the Chatham Islands came recently from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

It warned people in these areas that they could experience strong and unusual currents and unpredictable waves on the coast.

Breaking: A tsunami warning has been issued for the island of Tonga after a volcanic eruption. A video shows a possible tsunami wave hitting the island. pic.twitter.com/rCarK7ShD8

People are being told to stay off beaches and coastal areas until 4am tomorrow, but there is no need to evacuate other areas unless directed to do so by local civil defense authorities recommended.

It is now dark in Nuku’alofa and ash is falling and people can see lightning in the ash clouds.

The eruption between 5:20 p.m. and 5:28 p.m. rattled windows, houses shook and ash floated in the wind.

Meanwhile, waves have hit Samoa’s Savaii. More than 100 families were evacuated in Palauli and Satupaitea after a huge wave hit the coast and damaged homes.

RNZ Pacific’s Moera Tuilaepa-Taylor said this morning the volcano is semi-active but not spewing as much ash . She spoke to both the Tonga Meteorological Service and the Tonga Geological Service and both organizations reported much less activity today.

Around 5.30pm, people posted on Facebook that in the capital, Nuka’alofa, sirens were wailing and police were dying People were warned to move to higher ground or stay indoors. The Geological Survey urged people to wear masks as ash was in the air and not long after waves began to hit Nuka-alofa.

It had a major eruption on December 20 and was active until December 11. January active. It then became very active again yesterday.

“Yesterday’s eruption was seven times the size of December 20,” she said, citing information from the Geological Survey.

She said families in New Zealand were trying to call her relatives back home in Tonga, but communication is difficult.

Samoa is about a three-hour flight away and she would not be surprised if it was also affected by the recent eruption.

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