Pacific tsunami warning after volcanic eruption

SYDNEY (Reuters) – The eruption of an undersea volcano off the Tonga Islands has triggered a tsunami warning for several Pacific archipelagos, where waves up to a meter high were reported but no damage of significance reported at this time.

According to the US Tsunami Monitoring Center and Australian Meteorological Service, 1.2m high waves hit Nuku’alofa, the capital of Tonga , located 65 km north of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano.

The alert was also issued in Fiji, where the authorities called on the population away from the coast for fear of “strong currents and dangerous waves”, as well as in American Samoa, where waves of around one meter high have been observed in the capital Pago Pago. However, the alert was later lifted in Samoa.

The Honolulu-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, on the other hand, issued an alert in Hawaii, hit by waves on Saturday morning , as well as in southern California, near the Mexican border, and as far as Attu Island, in western Alaska.

In the South Pacific , New Zealand has issued a warning of the risk of unusually strong currents along its north and east coasts. On the other hand, no tsunami warning was issued in Australia.

The eruption of the volcano, which began on Friday, propelled a plume of ash, steam and smoke from 20 km high and 260 km radius in the sky of Tonga, plunging the islands partly into darkness, according to witnesses on site.

(Renju Jose in Sydney, with Valerie Volcovici in Washington, Jahnavi Nidumolu and Shubham Kalia in Bangalore, French version Tangi Salaün)