New York – Reuters
An underwater volcano erupted in Tonga on Saturday, triggering a tsunami alert in several Pacific Ocean countries, and video coverage on social media showed waves surging through homes.
The US Tsunami Monitoring Center said the tsunami was detected in the capital of Tonga and the US capital Samoa.
In Australia, the seismological service said a volcano erupted at 0410 GMT, 65 kilometers north of Tonga’s capital Nuku Alofa, causing a 1.2-meter tsunami.
The agency said it was continuing to monitor the situation, but did not issue a warning to mainland Australia, its islands or its territories.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the epicenter was reported at 2.7 feet (83 cm) in Nuku Alofa and two feet in Pago Pago, the capital of the US state of Samoa.
Fiji has issued a tsunami alert urging residents to avoid the coast “due to strong currents and dangerous waves.”
Jesse Toisino, a TV presenter for Fiji’s Channel One, posted a video on Twitter of people trying to flee with their cars in the face of huge waves crashing on the beach and people approaching.
The United States Monitoring Center later issued a warning to American Samoa.
The epicenter was reported below the Pacific Ocean floor, however; no tsunami alert was issued.
He said there was still a risk of tsunamis and that sea level rise and tidal waves would pose a threat to the coast.
In New Zealand, emergency management has issued a tsunami alert on the north and east coasts.
The Tonga Geological Services posted a post on Facebook on Friday stating that the volcano had released ash, steam and gas up to 20 kilometers in a 260-kilometer radius.