Tsunami in the Tonga Islands after the eruption of the volcano, the United States, Chile and Japan on alert

The inhabitants of the Tonga Islands were fleeing on Saturday January 15 to the heights to escape the tsunami caused by a new massive eruption – heard up to hundreds of kilometers – of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano. “A 1.20 meter tsunami was observed in Nuku’alofa”, the capital of Tonga, announced the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. The previous tsunami had not exceeded 30 centimeters, and the alert had just been lifted when the volcano erupted again.

Tsunami warnings have been issued for the west coast of the United States and Chile. On Saturday evening, the tidal wave reached Japan. Waves of 3 meters in height are to be feared, announced the national meteorological agency, which specifies that a wave of 1.2 meters had reached the southern island of Amami Oshima around 23:55 local time (3 p.m. 55, Paris time) on Saturday. Soon after, other areas along the Pacific coast of Japan saw smaller waves.

Friday’s eruption lasted eight minutes, and was so loud it was heard “like a sound of distant thunder” on the Fiji Islands, more than 800 kilometers away, Fiji officials said. Striking views taken from space showed the moment of the eruption where the volcano released a cloud of smoke and ash, as well as the wave immediately kicking around in the ocean.

Victorina Kioa of the Tonga Archipelago Utilities Commission called on people to “keep away from all threatened places, i.e. beaches, reefs and all flat coasts”. The king of Tonga, Tupou VI, was evacuated from the royal palace of Nuku’alofa and taken to a villa far from the coast. And the authorities have also advised the general population to stay indoors as much as possible, to wear masks if they have to go out and to protect all water supplies.

Tsunami warnings have also been issued for Fiji and Samoa, New Zealand and Australia. The Australian authorities have also warned the population of Sydney and its region, New South Wales, of “to get out of the water, and to move away from the edge of the water”. In Chile, the National Emergency Office of Chile has warned of the possibility that a “minor tsunami” reaches Easter Island and other Chilean archipelagos. “As a precautionary measure, in the Juan Fernandez Archipelago, the San Felix Islands, Easter Island and Chilean Antarctica, it is requested, due to the eruption of a volcano in the Tonga Islands, to leave the beach areas where a minor tsunami could occur », the organization said.

“Leave the beaches”

In the United States, tsunami warnings have been issued for the west coast of the country, Hawaii having already been affected by “minor flooding”. “Leave the beaches, ports and marinas” in the areas concerned, recommends the United States Meteorological Service, which specifies with ” relief “ that the US islands of Hawaii reported no damage and suffered only minor flooding.

The states of California, Oregon and Washington could be affected, as well as Alaska and the Canadian province of British Columbia, specifies the weather service: “The main impacts expected are strong rip currents and flooding of coasts and low-lying areas. »

The World with AFP