Tsunami caused by Tonga volcano eruption hits Japan’s coast


A tsunami caused by a massive underwater volcanic eruption off Tonga has reached Japan’s shores, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

A 1.2m-high wave was registered at 11.55pm local time on Saturday (Jan 15) at the southern Amami and Tokara islands, where tsunami warnings were issued for waves potentially reaching 3m.

Waves of 1m and below were reported in several areas along the coast, from Hokkaido to Okinawa.

Tsunami advisories were issued for other coastal regions. People in those areas should stay away from beaches and the mouths of rivers, NHK reported.

Japanese broadcaster TBS News said no damage has been reported by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department.

The Japan Meteorological Agency had said earlier on Saturday that there was a chance of minor sea-level change but ruled out a damaging tsunami and did not initially issue a warning or advisory, according to The Japan Times.

The eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano also triggered tsunami warnings on the US West Coast.

Fiji issued a tsunami warning, urging residents to avoid the shorelines “due to strong currents and dangerous waves.”

The volcano sits on an uninhabited island about 65km north of the Tongan capital Nuku’alofa.

Its latest eruption was so intense it was heard as “loud thunder sounds” in Fiji more than 800km away, according to officials in Suva City – where images shared on social media showed large waves hitting the coast.

Jese Tuisinu, a television reporter at Fiji One, posted a video on Twitter showing large waves washing ashore, with people trying to flee from the oncoming waves in their cars.

“It is literally dark in parts of Tonga and people are rushing to safety following the eruption,” he said.

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