Tonga: Tsunami warning level lowered after major earthquake


A major earthquake hit Tonga on Friday, prompting a tsunami warning and an immediate evacuation order from the island nation’s government.

The government initially asked local residents to flee to higher ground after what it said was a 7.9-magnitude earthquake near the town of Niafu, on the island of Vava’u, before lowering the alert level and urging the public to “be particularly vigilant”.

“Based on Tonga tide gauge monitoring, a tsunami wave of 10 centimeters was recorded in Niavu, Vavao, 6 centimeters in Niuatoputapu and 5 centimeters on the Nuku’alofa tide gauge was recorded at 1 am this morning,” the government announced in its latest statement. .

Because the tsunami wave is less than one foot away, “these tsunami waves are only expected to affect our coasts at this time,” she said.

However, the statement cautioned that ocean currents around offshore coastal areas “may be strong and erratic and special caution should be exercised.”

The government also advised the public to stay away from low-lying coastal areas, beaches and port areas, adding that people should avoid swimming and any related activities until the warning is lifted.

The government said the quake occurred at a depth of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) about 200 kilometers (124 miles) east of Niavo.

A 7.3-magnitude earthquake was detected 211 kilometers east of Niavo, Tonga, the United States Geological Survey (USGA) said Friday.

Earlier this year, Tonga was hit by a record-breaking volcanic eruption underwater volcanowhich shot a huge plume of ash, gas and steam up to 20 kilometers deep into the atmosphere and sent tsunami waves rolling across the Pacific Ocean.

The main island, Tongatapu, was severely damaged by the tsunami and suffocated in a thick layer of ash.

At least two deaths were reported at the time.

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