Parts of coastal British Columbia under tsunami warning after Tonga volcano eruption


The National Tsunami Warning Center is issuing advisories for various parts of the British Columbia coast following a volcanic eruption in the Pacific Rim near the Tonga Islands.

The center says four areas are affected by the advisory, which was issued this morning.

Zone A covers the north coast, including Haida Gwaii, while Zone B covers the central and northeastern coasts of Vancouver Island, including Kitimat, Bella Coola, and Port Hardy.

The advisory also applies to the outer west coast of Vancouver Island from Cape Scott to Port Renfrew, referred to as Zone C, as well as Zone D which spans the Strait of Juan de Fuca from the Jordan River to Greater Victoria, including the Saanich Peninsula.

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a submarine volcano erupted in spectacular fashion near the Pacific nation of Tonga on Saturday, sending huge tsunami waves crashing ashore and people scrambling for higher ground.

A tsunami warning is also in effect for Hawaii and the US Pacific coast.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or the extent of the damage, as communications with the small nation remained cut for hours after the eruption.

In Hawaii, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reported waves hitting the shoreline from half a meter (a foot) in Nawiliwili, Kauai, to 80 centimeters (2.7 feet) in Hanalei.

“We are relieved that no damage and only minor flooding has been reported on the islands,” the center said.

In Tonga, a video posted on social media showed large waves washing ashore in coastal areas, swirling around homes and buildings.

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The New Zealand Army said it was monitoring the situation and remained on standby, ready to help if requested.

Satellite images showed a huge eruption, a plume of ash, steam and gas rising like a mushroom over the blue waters of the Pacific.

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The Tonga Meteorological Services said a tsunami warning was declared for the entire archipelago, and data from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center showed waves of 80 centimeters (2.7 feet) were detected.

Residents of American Samoa were alerted to the tsunami warning by local radio stations, as well as by church bells that rang throughout the territory. An outside siren warning system was out of order. Those who lived along the coast quickly moved to higher ground.

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As night fell, there were no reports of damage and the Hawaii-based tsunami center canceled the alert.

Authorities in the nearby island nations of Fiji and Samoa also issued warnings, telling people to avoid the coast due to strong currents and dangerous waves. The Japan Meteorological Agency said there may be some slight swelling of the water along Japanese coastlines, but it is not expected to cause any damage.

The Islands Business news site reported that a convoy of police and military troops evacuated King Tupou VI of Tonga from his palace near the coast. He was among the many residents who made their way to higher ground.

The explosion of the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano was the latest in a series of spectacular eruptions.

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A Twitter user identified as Dr. Faka’iloatonga Taumoefolau posted a video showing waves breaking on land.

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“I can literally hear the volcano erupting, it sounds quite violent,” he wrote, adding in a later post: “Ash rain and little pebbles, darkness covers the sky.”

Earlier, the Matangi Tonga news site reported that scientists observed massive explosions, thunder and lightning near the volcano after it began erupting early Friday. Satellite images showed a 5-kilometer (3-mile) wide plume rising into the air up to about 20 kilometers (12 miles).

More than 2,300 kilometers (1,400 miles) away in New Zealand, authorities warned of storm surge from the eruption.

The National Emergency Management Agency said parts of New Zealand could expect “unusual strong currents and unpredictable coastal surges following a major volcanic eruption.”

The volcano is about 64 kilometers (40 miles) north of the capital, Nuku’alofa. In late 2014 and early 2015, a series of eruptions in the area created a small new island and disrupted international air travel to the Pacific archipelago for several days.

Tonga is home to some 105,000 people.

— With Canadian Press archives

© 2022 The Canadian Press


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