Tsunami waves caused by an underwater volcano have been observed in Tonga’s capital and the capital of American Samoa.
The eruption at 0410 GMT on Friday of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai underwater volcano, located about 65km (40 miles) north of Tonga’s capital, Nuku’alofa, caused a 1.2-metre tsunami, Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said.
The agency said it continued to monitor the situation but that no tsunami threat had been issued to the Australian mainland, islands or territories.
Tsunami waves of 2.7 feet (82 cm) were observed by gauges in the Tongan capital, and waves of 2 feet in Pago Pago, the capital of American Samoa, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.
The US-based monitor later cancelled warnings for the US territory of American Samoa and Hawaii but said the tsunami remained a threat for parts of the Pacific nearer the volcano.
Fiji issued a tsunami warning, urging residents to avoid the shorelines “due to strong currents and dangerous waves”.
Tsunami videos out of Tonga ?? this afternoon following the Volcano Eruption. pic.twitter.com/JTIcEdbpGe
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.
New Zealand’s emergency management agency issued an advisory on tsunami activity for its northern and eastern coasts, with the areas expected to experience strong and unusual currents, and unpredictable surges at the shore.
On Friday, the volcano sent ash, steam and gas up to 20km into the air, with a radius of 260km, Tonga Geological Services said in a Facebook post.