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The volcano erupts in the Pacific, West Coast under tsunami advice

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) An underwater volcano erupted spectacularly near the Tongan Pacific nation on Saturday, sending huge tsunami waves crashing along the coast and people rushing to higher ground. A tsunami alert was in place for Hawaii, Alaska and the U.S. Pacific coast, with reports of waves pushing boats up into ports in Hawaii.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage, as the entire internet connection with Tonga was lost around 6:40 p.m. local time about 10 minutes after the problems started, said Doug Madory, director of web analytics for the firm. of Kentucky network intelligence. .

Tonga gets its internet via an underwater cable from Suva, Fiji, which was apparently damaged. The company that manages that connection, Southern Cross Cable Network, could not be contacted immediately for comment.

In Hawaii, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reported that the waves hit the shore from half a meter (1.6 feet) in Nawiliwili, Kauai, to 80 centimeters (2.7 feet) in Hanalei. We are relieved that there is no reported damage and only minor flooding across the islands, the center said, describing the situation in Hawaii.

In Tonga, home to about 105,000 people, video posted on social media showed huge waves pouring ashore in coastal areas, spinning around homes and buildings, including a church. Satellite images showed a huge explosion, a plume of ash, steam and gas rising like a mushroom over the blue waters of the Pacific.

The New Zealand Army said it was monitoring the situation and remained on alert, ready to assist if required.

Tonga Meteorological Services said a tsunami alert had been issued for the entire archipelago, and data from the center of the Pacific tsunami showed that 80-centimeter (2.7-foot) waves had been detected.

The eruption of Hunga Tonga volcano Hunga Haapai was the latest in a series of spectacular eruptions.

A Twitter user identified as Dr. Taumoefolau posted a video showing the waves crashing ashore.

He can literally hear the volcano erupting, it sounds quite violent, he wrote, adding in a later post: It’s raining ash and small pebbles, darkness covering the sky.

In Hawaii, Alaska, and along the U.S. Pacific coast, residents were asked to leave the coastline at higher ground and heeded specific instructions from their local emergency management officials, said Dave Snider, coordinator Tsunami Warning Center for the National Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, Alaska

The first waves to hit the continental United States were measured at about 30 centimeters (1 foot) in Nikolski, Atka and Adak, Alaska. The wave was about 20 centimeters (.7 feet) in Monterey, California, the National Tsunami Warning Center said in a Twitter post.

The National Weather Service said there were reports of waves pushing boats into Hawaii. Sea level fluctuations were also starting in Alaska and California, according to the National Tsunami Warning Center.

Beaches and piers were closed across Southern California as a precaution, but the National Weather Service on Twitter said there were no significant flood concerns. However, strong rupture currents were possible and officials warned people to stay out of the water.

Crowds gathered in Santa Cruz harbor early Saturday to watch the water rise and fall slowly, straining boat connections to docks. There was no apparent immediate damage. In 2011, following the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, a series of increases cost the port $ 20 million in damage.

We do not issue advice on this length of coastline as we have done, I’m not sure when it was last time, but it’s actually not a daily experience, Snider said. I hope this raises the importance and severity for our citizens.

He said the waves that were already crashing ashore in Hawaii were just below the criteria for a more serious tsunami warning.

The important thing here is that the first wave may not be the biggest. We could watch this game for a few hours, he added. It looks like everything will be below the warning level, but it is difficult to predict because this is a volcanic eruption and were created to measure earthquakes or seismically induced sea waves.

Residents of American Samoa were alerted to the tsunami warning by local broadcasters, as well as church bells that rang across the territory. An external siren warning system was out of order. Those who lived along the coastline quickly moved to higher ground.

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

Authorities in the nearby island states of Fiji and Samoa also issued warnings, urging people to avoid the coastline due to strong currents and dangerous waves. The Japan Meteorological Agency said there could be a slight bounce of water along the coast but it was not expected to cause any damage.

Tonga’s Islands Business news site reported that a column of police and military troops evacuated King Tupou VI from his palace near the coast. He was among the many residents who set off for a higher area.

Earlier, news site Matangi Tonga reported that scientists observed massive eruptions, thunder and lightning near the volcano as it began to erupt early Friday. Satellite images showed a plume 5 kilometers (3 miles) wide rising in the air at about 20 kilometers (12 miles).

More than 2,300 miles (1,400 miles) away in New Zealand, officials were warning of storm surges from the blast.

The National Emergency Management Agency said some parts of New Zealand could expect strong and unusual currents and unpredictable waves ashore after a major volcanic eruption.

New Zealand private forecaster Weather Watch posted on Twitter that people as far as Southland, the country’s southernmost region, reported hearing audible noise from the blast. Others reported that many boats were damaged by a tsunami that hit a navy in Whangarei, in the Northland region.

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

There is no significant difference between underwater and land volcanoes, and underwater volcanoes become larger as they erupt, at one point usually erupting the surface, said Hans Schwaiger, a research geophysicist at the Alaska Volcanic Observatory.

However, with underwater volcanoes, water can increase the explosiveness of the eruption while hitting the lava, Schwaiger added.

Prior to an eruption, there is generally an increase in small local earthquakes in the volcano, but depending on how far it is from the ground, this may not be felt by residents along the coastline, Schwaiger said.

In 2019, Tonga lost internet access for almost two weeks when the same fiber optic cable was disconnected. The director of the local cable company said at the time that a large ship may have cut the cable by dragging an anchor. Until restricted satellite access was restored, people could not even make international calls.

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Associated Press writers Jennifer McDermott in Providence, Rhode Island, Frank Bajak in Boston, Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo, and Fili Sagapolutele in Pago Pago, American Samoa, contributed to this report.

Sources

1/ https://Google.com/

2/ https://www.wsav.com/news/international-news/tonga-issues-tsunami-warning-after-undersea-volcano-erupts/

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