Tsunami warning for parts of New Zealand, waves crash on Tonga


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Some parts of New Zealand are now also being warned of the tsunami after the powerful volcano of Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai in Tonga this afternoon.

A warning to the north and east coasts of North Island and Chatham Islands came shortly after the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

It warned locals that they would be exposed to strong and unusual currents and inconspicuous waves along the coast.

People are advised not to leave the beaches and coastal areas until 4am tomorrow, but there is no need to leave other areas unless specifically instructed by local security officials.

The floodwaters are unexpected.

A tsunami alert was issued throughout Tonga just after 5.30pm by Tonga Meteorological Services.

Waves have hit the main island of Tongatapu, including its capital, Nuku’alofa.

At Nuku’alofa it is dark now and the ashes are falling and people are seeing lightning in the clouds of ashes.

Mobile connections are limited and it has been difficult for people to get through.

The explosion, between 5:20 pm and 5:28 pm, caused windows to crack, house to collapse and ash to air.

The Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai submarine on Friday, when it began to erupt. Photo: Tonga Geological

Strong waves crossed the Nuku’alofa shore and coastal roads and flooded goods.

Meanwhile, waves are hitting Savaii in Samoa. More than 100 families have been evacuated to Palauli and Satupaitea after a large tidal wave hit the coast, destroying homes.

RNZ PacificMoera Tuilaepa-Taylor said this morning the mountain was impassable but did not spit a lot of ash. He spoke to the Tonga Meteorological Service and the Tonga Geological Service, both of which said they were doing very little today.

“Obviously things changed quickly.”

At around 5:30 pm people were posting on Facebook that sirens were sounding throughout the Nuka’alofa area, and police were warning people not to move ashore or stay in their homes. Officials at the Ministry of Lands and Stone told people to wear masks because the sky was cloudy and the waves soon began to hit Nuka-alofa.

He also said that the mountain is located about 40 miles[65 km]from the main island of Tongatapu.

It erupted heavily on December 20 and has been in operation until January 11. It then resumed operations yesterday.

“Yesterday’s eruption was seven times greater than the December 20 eruption,” he said, citing more information on geological activity.

He said families in New Zealand had tried to contact their relatives in Tonga but communication was difficult.

Waves appeared “too big” for the pictures he saw on television, he said.

Samoa is about three hours away and would not be surprised if it were hit again by a recent eruption.

He did not expect New Zealand to be affected.

More to come


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