The United States, Japan and Chile issued ‘tsunami’ warnings this Saturday following an eruption of an underwater volcano this morning off the South Pacific island of Tonga, which has already been hit by a giant wave.
A few hours later, Chile’s national emergency agency issued an alert and called for the evacuation of the coasts of Easter Island, the Juan Fernández archipelago, the island of San Félix and Antarctica.
The Chilean Navy’s Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service declared, in a message posted on the social network Twitter, a “state of precaution” which, according to the scale of risks of this agency, indicates “the possibility of a small tsunami” in these territories.
In Chile, the closest area to Tonga Island is Rapa Nui, known as Easter Island, located 3,800 kilometers from the country’s mainland.
The Juan Fernández archipelago and the island of San Félix are much closer to South America, about 600 kilometers away.
The Japan Meteorological Agency also issued a tsunami alert on the east coast of the archipelago, with a special risk for the group of Amami and Tokara islands (in the southwest of the country), referring to forecast waves of up to three meters high.
The islands of Amami and Tocara have already been the target of a first wave considered to be the beginning of the tsunami, measuring 1.2 meters in height.
Waves can reach up to one meter off the Japanese coast, according to the same source, which includes precautions for the areas of Hokkaido, Chiba, Tokyo, Iwate and Kagoshima, with authorities asking people to move away from the sea and retreat to high places. .
So far no damage has been reported in the country.
The most recent alert came from the United States Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, whose warning was mainly dedicated to the west coast of the country, affecting the states of Hawaii, California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska.
The expected waves will not exceed, according to the American body, half a meter in height and their start was expected for California, at 07:35 local time (15:00 in Lisbon), and the alert will be in effect until around 18:00 from Lisbon.
The tsunami that hit Tonga reached some houses and buildings on the beachfront and quickly flooded the surroundings, according to videos posted on social media by witnesses who took refuge on the roofs of their homes.
Local authorities issued a tsunami warning for the entire country after the eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai submarine volcano, about 65 kilometers off Tongatapu, the main island of this island nation with 71,000 inhabitants.
According to witnesses, the volcano erupted at 17:20 (04:20 Lisbon time) and released a huge cloud of ash into the air, reports the Radio New Zealand portal.
The waves also hit part of the island of Vanua Levu, in northeast Fiji, while the Samoan authorities issued a warning about the possibility of rising water levels.
Islands Business News, meanwhile, reported that a unit of police and military troops evacuated King Tupou VI of Tonga from his palace near the coast, taking him to higher ground.
New Zealand’s Emergency Management Agency said on Twitter it expected “strong currents and unusually unpredictable swells” off the north and east coast of the North Island and the Chatham Islands of that ocean-going country.
The explosion of the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano was the latest in a series of major eruptions.
News website Matangi Tonga reported that scientists observed strong explosions, thunder and lightning near the volcano after it began to erupt early on Friday.