By Peter McLaren-Kennedy • 15 January 2022 • 11:34
Following this mornings Tsunami alert for Tonga and reports of waves crashing over the island after the eruption of the volcano, Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haʻapai, alerts have now been issued for all the Pacific Islands and the coastal areas of New Zealand.
The alert comes from New Zealand’s National Emergency Management Agency who sent a national advisory to notify of tsunami activity. This follows the reports in Tonga and those from all the neighbouring islands where people have said they heard the bang and felt the earth shake as the volcano erupted.
“We expect New Zealand coastal areas on the north and east coast of the North Island and the Chatham Islands to experience strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges at the shore,” it tweeted.
The New Zealand Defence Force says it is monitoring the situation in Tonga and is ready to assist if requested by the Tongan Government. So far no request has been made.
The New Zealand MetService says the ‘booms’ are a surge in the air pressure. Some people around the country have also heard a rumble probably associated with the eruption.
The Bureau of Meterology in Australia says Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island are under tsunami warning after the eruption.
The Fiji Meteorological Service has issued an advisory, saying there’s a risk of abnormal wave heights due to tsunami generated waves from Tonga. Reports in Fiji says tsunami waves have reached parts of Vanualevu in Fiji.
Fijian Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has told reporters that air quality is being monitored and evacuation centres are being opened. People should move to higher ground if they need to and avoid the shore line.
“As a matter of precaution, please cover all household water tanks and stay indoors in the event of rain due to the risk of rainfall being acidic.”
Samoa and American Samoa
In Samoa, more than 100 families have reportedly been evacuated from villages on the southern side of the big island of Savaii after wave surges hit homes at Vailoa, Palauli, about 6pm.
Locals told Samoa’s Eyespy Radio that “huge waves” struck the coastline and caused damage to houses in the villages of Palauli and Satupaitea.
Villagers reported windows “rattling” shortly beforehand and was what initially thought to be thunderstorms were remnants from the volcano eruption in Tonga.
The Samoa Meteorology division has said no evacuation is necessary saying: “For the safety of the public, it is advised to not go near beaches or coastal areas.”
It is understood that many villagers have taken it upon themselves to head to higher ground, with those on the other side of Savaii are also preparing for a late night evacuation.
A local told the Herald there were no warnings being broadcast on television, but people living on the coast are preparing to leave. “Sirens and bells are going off and we’re packing just in case.”
Volcano declared dormant on January 11
The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haʻapai volcano located about 30km south-east of Fonuafo’ou island in Tonga, had been active from December 20, 2021, but was declared dormant on January 11.
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Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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