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Aid from China, which included cash assistance and emergency supplies, has arrived in tsunami-hit Tonga.

Tonga volcanic eruption may cause China's summer rain belts shift south.

Peru declared environmental emergency after announcing that 21 beaches polluted by spill linked to Tonga eruption.

The first flights carrying fresh water and other aid to Tonga finally arrived Thursday after the Pacific nation's main airport runway was cleared of ash.

13:58 2022-01-17
Tsunami warnings from Tonga volcano eruption canceled in Australia

SYDNEY -- Australia's Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) canceled all tsunami warnings for Australia on Sunday evening, which were previously issued due to a volcano eruption in Tonga.

The warnings, issued for several states along eastern coastal lines of Australia and some offshore islands after the underwater volcano Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai erupted on Saturday, were downgraded to marine threat warning for the state of New South Wales, Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island.

While the tsunami warnings have been canceled, the BoM said there is still a ginormous high-level ash cloud associated with the volcano eruption, which is making for some "spectacular sunrises" in parts of the state of Queensland.

Local media outlet the Courier Mail said stunning sunrises were captured Monday morning right along Queensland's coastline and were particularly vibrant in Cairns and Townsville.

"Red, orange and purple painted the skies off the central and northern Queensland coast on Monday morning as light bounced off the matter," read the report.

It's expected the ash will spread west across the state and towards the Northern Territory.

13:44 2022-01-17
New Zealand's C-130 Hercules to deliver aid to tsunami-hit Tonga

WELLINGTON -- A New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules is ready to depart for Tonga on Monday to airdrop fresh water and other essential supplies, as the Pacific island country suffered from a serious tsunami following a major volcanic eruption.

The plane loaded with provisions to Tonga is requested by the Tongan authorities which said water supply had been severely affected in the fallout from the eruption, according to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

The C-130 Hercules is the second New Zealand aircraft leaving for Tonga after a P-3K Orion aircraft left Base Auckland on Monday morning to assist in an initial impact assessment of the area and low-lying islands in Tonga.

New Zealand Defense Minister Peeni Henare said, "There is still no time frame for the reconnection of communications with Tonga," as communications are being repaired after the main undersea cable had been impacted.

"We are working hard to see how we can assist our Pacific neighbors after the volcanic eruption near Tonga," said a statement of the New Zealand Defense Force.

Tsunami waves hit Tonga on Saturday. The tsunami followed a series of violent eruptions from underwater volcano Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai, 65 km north of the country's main island Tongatapu.

The New Zealand National Emergency Management Agency has issued a national advisory to cancel a warning on tsunami activity in the country.

The advice, based on ocean observations, is that the beach and marine threat has now passed for all areas, the agency said.

Strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges will continue for up to another 24 hours in some locations around the entire country. People should remain vigilant and take extra precautions with regards to beach and ocean activities, it said.

New Zealand has pledged to provide support for Tonga following the volcanic eruption that sent tsunami waves crashing onto the Pacific Island.

Ardern told a Sunday media conference that the New Zealand government has made an initial sum of 500,000 New Zealand dollars (340,000 U.S. dollars) available to provide assistance to Tonga.

The tsunami had a significant impact on part of the foreshore of Tonga, with boats and large boulders washed ashore and shops along the coast damaged, said Ardern.

Along with the two aircraft dispatched, New Zealand was considering the deployment of a naval ship should it being needed, she said, adding the New Zealand government was waiting to hear from the Tongan authorities about what was needed.

Meanwhile, an Australian Air Force P8 Poseidon aircraft also reached Tonga on Monday.

10:09 2022-01-17
Tsunami advisory canceled for Bay Area in US California
A Lifeguard truck is see in parked in Venice beach while people observe big waves crashing in the breakwater in Los Angeles, California, on Jan 15, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

SAN FRANCISCO -- The tsunami advisory triggered Saturday by a volcanic eruption near Tonga has been canceled in the US state of California, including the San Francisco Bay Area, the National Weather Service said Sunday.

The advisory ended Saturday night for the Bay Area and early Sunday for the rest of the state, the weather service tweeted.

Tsunami advisories can be canceled when wave heights stay below 0.3 meters for three hours, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center protocol.

California officials warned residents to remain cautious near the coastline "as lingering strong currents likely exist," the weather service said.

Tsunami warnings were also lifted in countries around the Pacific Rim, with the US Tsunami Warning System map showing none in effect Sunday morning, according to a report by San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday.

The underwater volcanic eruption near Tonga triggered tsunami along California's Pacific coast Saturday, resulting in beach closures, evacuations in Berkeley's Marina and flooding at the Santa Cruz Harbor, the report said.

09:53 2022-01-17
New Zealand Air Force Orion aircraft departing for tsunami-hit Tonga
A handout satellite image made available by the Tonga Meteorological Services, Government of Tonga shows an explosive eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano, located in the South Pacific Kingdom of Tonga, on Jan 15, 2022. [Photo/IC]

WELLINGTON -- A Royal New Zealand Air Force Orion aircraft left Base Auckland on Monday morning for tsunami-hit Tonga to assist in an initial impact assessment of the area and low-lying islands.

"We are working hard to see how we can assist our Pacific neighbors after the volcanic eruption near Tonga," said a statement of the New Zealand Defense Force.

Tsunami waves hit Tonga on Saturday. The tsunami followed a series of violent eruptions from underwater volcano Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai, 65 km north of the country's main island Tongatapu.

The Orion aircraft to provide aerial surveillance was on stand-by on Sunday to wait for good atmospheric conditions and avoid hazards including ash fall.

"Our thoughts are with those who have been affected at this time," the statement said.

The National Emergency Management Agency has issued a national advisory to cancel a warning on tsunami activity in New Zealand issued on Saturday following the large eruption at Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'pai in Tonga.

The advice, based on ocean observations, is that the beach and marine threat has now passed for all areas, the agency said.

Strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges will continue for up to another 24 hours in some locations around the entire country. People should remain vigilant and take extra precautions with regards to beach and ocean activities, it said.

New Zealand has pledged to provide support for Tonga following a volcanic eruption that sent tsunami waves crashing onto the Pacific Island.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters at a Sunday media conference that the New Zealand government has made an initial sum of 500,000 New Zealand dollars ($340,000) available to provide assistance to Tonga.

The tsunami had a significant impact on part of the foreshore of Tonga, with boats and large boulders washed ashore and shops along the coast damaged, said Ardern.

There has been no official report of injuries or deaths yet. However, communications were interrupted and limited. The main undersea communications cable has been impacted, said Ardern.

Along with the Orion aircraft flight, New Zealand was considering the deployment of a naval ship should it being needed, she said, adding the New Zealand government was waiting to hear from the Tongan authorities about what was needed.

Ardern said one of the first requests from Tonga was for water supply, which could be severely affected in the fallout from the eruption.

09:52 2022-01-17
China ready to provide support, assistance at Tonga's request: spokesperson
Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin is seen at a daily news conference on Jan 7, 2022. [Photo/fmprc.gov.cn]

BEIJING -- China is closely watching the volcanic eruptions and ensuing disasters including tsunami and volcanic ash in Tonga, and stands ready to provide every possible support and assistance at Tonga's request, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on Sunday.

Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said the Chinese Embassy in Tonga immediately activated emergency response mechanism and learned about the situation of Chinese citizens after the disaster through various channels. "So far, no casualties of Chinese citizens have been reported," he said.

Noting China and Tonga are comprehensive strategic partners, Wang said China extends deep sympathies to the government and people of Tonga, and stands ready to provide every possible support and assistance at Tonga's request.

09:48 2022-01-17
Huge Tonga volcanic eruption caused 'significant damage'
The eruption of an underwater volcano off Tonga, which triggered a tsunami warning for several South Pacific island nations, on Jan 15, 2022. [Photo/IC]

WELLINGTON - A massive volcanic eruption in Tonga that triggered tsunami waves around the Pacific caused "significant damage" to the island nation's capital and smothered it in dust, but the full extent was unclear with communications still hampered Monday.

The eruption on Saturday was so powerful it was recorded around the world and heard as far away as Alaska, triggering a tsunami that flooded Pacific coastlines from Japan to the United States.

The capital Nuku'alofa suffered "significant" damage, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, adding there had been no reports of injury or death but a full assessment was not yet possible with communication lines down.

"The tsunami has had a significant impact on the foreshore on the northern side of Nuku'alofa with boats and large boulders washed ashore," Ardern said after contact with the New Zealand embassy in Tonga.

"Nuku'alofa is covered in a thick film of volcanic dust but otherwise conditions are calm and stable."

Tonga was in need of water supplies, she said, as "the ash cloud has caused contamination."

There has been no word on damage in the outer islands but New Zealand sent an air force reconnaissance aircraft early Monday "to assist in an initial impact assessment of the area and low-lying islands," the country's Defence Force said.

Tonga has also accepted Canberra's offer to send a surveillance flight, Australia's foreign office said, adding it is also immediately prepared to supply "critical humanitarian supplies".

The United States and the World Health Organization have pledged support, while the United Nations children's agency said it was preparing emergency supplies to fly in.

A 1.2-meter wave swept ashore in the Tongan capital with residents reporting they had fled to higher ground, leaving behind flooded houses, some with structural damage, as small stones and ash fell from the sky.

"It was massive, the ground shook, our house was shaking. It came in waves. My younger brother thought bombs were exploding nearby," resident Mere Taufa told the Stuff news website Saturday.

She said water filled their home minutes later and she watched the wall of a neighboring house collapse.

"We just knew straight away it was a tsunami. Just water gushing into our home," Taufa said.

"You could just hear screams everywhere, people screaming for safety, for everyone to get to higher ground."

Drownings in Peru

Tonga's King Tupou VI was reported to have been evacuated from the Royal Palace in Nuku'alofa and taken by police convoy to a villa well away from the coastline.

A handout satellite image made available by the Tonga Meteorological Services, Government of Tonga shows an explosive eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano, located in the South Pacific Kingdom of Tonga, on Jan 15, 2022. [Photo/IC]

Dramatic satellite images showed the long, rumbling eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano spew smoke and ash in the air, with a thunderous roar heard 10,000 kilometers away in Alaska.

The eruption triggered tsunamis across the Pacific with waves of 1.74 meters measured in Chanaral, Chile, more than 10,000 kilometers away, and smaller waves seen along the Pacific coast from Alaska to Mexico.

Two women drowned on a beach in northern Peru due to "anomalous waves" caused by the eruption, authorities said Sunday, and dozens of people required rescue from flooding in the south of the country.

In California, the city of Santa Cruz was hit by flooding due to a tidal surge generated by the tsunami, while waves of around 1.2 meters hit along Japan's Pacific coast.

'Just incredible'

The US Geological Survey recorded Saturday's eruption as equivalent to a 5.8-magnitude earthquake at zero depth.

The volcano's eruption lasted at least eight minutes and sent plumes of gas, ash and smoke several kilometers into the air.

New Zealand scientist Marco Brenna described the impact as "relatively mild" but said another eruption with a much bigger impact could not be ruled out.

The eruption was so powerful it was even heard in Alaska, the UAF Geophysical Institute tweeted, saying the fact it was audible was "fairly unique."

It cited Alaska Volcano Observatory scientists David Fee as recalling "only a couple other volcanic eruptions doing something like this" -- namely, the 19th-century eruption of Indonesia's Krakatau, and Alaska's Novarupta, the most powerful volcanic eruption of the 20th century.

The Fife weather station in Scotland tweeted it was "just incredible to think of the power that can send a shockwave around the world" after the eruptions produced a jump in its air pressure graph.

Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai, which lies about 65 kilometers north of Nuku'alofa, has a history of volatility.

In recent years it breached sea level during a 2009 eruption, while in 2015 it spewed so many large rocks and ash into the air that when they settled, a new island had formed two kilometers long by one kilometer wide and 100 meters high.

09:45 2022-01-17
Battered Tonga at the center of Pacific tsunami alert
By WANG XU in Tokyo
Tongan geologists aboard a ship watch the eruption of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano in Tonga, Jan 15, 2022. [Photo/Xinhua]

The tsunami threat around Pacific countries was abating on Sunday but the extent of damage remained unknown in Tonga, where a huge underwater volcano erupted the previous day and triggered tsunamis that flooded Pacific coastlines from Japan to the United States, prompting hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate.

The capital of Tonga, Nuku'alofa suffered "significant" damage, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Sunday, adding there had been no reports of injury or death but that a full assessment was not yet possible with communication lines down.

Ardern cited a damaged undersea cable as one reason for difficulties in communicating with Tonga. "The tsunami has had a significant impact on the foreshore on the northern side of Nuku'alofa, with boats and large boulders washed ashore," Ardern said after communicating with the New Zealand embassy in Tonga.

"Nuku'alofa is covered in a thick film of volcanic dust but otherwise conditions are calm and stable."

The volcano, about 65 kilometers north of Nuku'alofa, erupted on Saturday afternoon. Tonga Geological Services said plumes reached more than 19.3 kilometers above sea level, with satellite images showing the huge plume of ash, steam and gas the eruption caused.

As a result, tsunami warnings were in force for all Pacific countries after the eruption.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii said tsunamis of up to about 80 centimeters high were observed in Tonga.

High waves triggered

The eruption triggered tsunamis reached about 1.4 meters in Vanuatu, about 3 meters in Japan, over one-meter high in Alaska and California and even 80 centimeters high on the coast of Peru, about 10,000 kilometers from Tonga.

Footage from local TV showed seawater gushing into a coastal town in Peru, where the water rose above knee level, and some people were clinging to pillars to stop themselves from being swept away.

Japan's weather agency issued tsunami warnings from the northernmost island of Hokkaido to Okinawa in the south, and about 230,000 people were asked to leave coastal areas, the country's Fire and Disaster Management Agency said.

Trains, aircraft and postal services were disrupted in the country, with Japan Airlines canceling about 27 domestic flights due to the tsunami.

However, during a news conference on Sunday evening, Japan's Meteorological Agency lifted all tsunami warnings and advisories, saying there may be some tidal fluctuation, but ruled out the possibility of a tsunami.

On Saturday the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed his deep concern over Tonga and other countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the United States.

"The United Nations offices in the Pacific are closely monitoring the situation and are on standby to provide support if requested," Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for the secretary-general, said.

"The secretary-general is grateful to countries that have already offered their support."

Agencies contributed to this story.

07:20 2022-01-16
Tsunami reaches Japan; Concerns mount for Tonga
Local resident evacuees to the high ground after an tsunami warning was issued for coastal towns in Iwate prefecture in northeastern Japan, Jan 16, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

TOKYO - Tsunami reached Japan late Saturday through early Sunday, and waves as high as three meters were possible, the Japan Meteorological Agency said, hours after a massive volcanic eruption near Tonga.

The agency said a 1.2 metre (about four feet) tsunami reached the remote southern island of Amami Oshima around 11:55 pm (1455 GMT) Saturday before other areas along Japan's Pacific coast observed smaller tsunami.

The eastern shores of northernmost Hokkaido island as well as southwestern regions of Kochi and Wakayama also saw tsunami as high as 0.9 metres shortly after midnight, the agency said.

National broadcaster NHK switched to special programming and aired live footage from ports of affected regions, calling on area residents to evacuate to higher ground.

The footage showed no clear signs of abnormality, however.

Doctor Ernst Von Schwarz uses his mobile phone to record waves from the Seal Beach municipal pier after a tsunami advisory was issued, following an underwater volcano eruption over 8500 km (around 5300 miles) away in Seal Beach, California, US, Jan 15, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

A weather agency official told a televised, midnight news conference that the agency had detected a tidal change higher than one metre after 11 pm.

The agency didn't immediately classify it as tsunami. However, it decided to activate the public tsunami warning systems to urge the evacuation of Amami residents.

"We don't know at this point whether this is tsunami, but a strong tidal change has been observed, so we're urging residents to respond," the official told the press conference.

A surfer drops a wave in Venice beach on Jan 15, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. A tsunami advisory was in effect for the West Coast of the United States as well as Hawaii and Alaska after an undersea volcano erupted in the Pacific Ocean near Tonga. [Photo/Agencies]

Tonga volcanic eruption felt around the world
The massive underwater volcanic eruption in Tonga was so powerful it was recorded around the world and triggered a tsunami that flooded Pacific coastlines from Japan to the US.

In New Zealand, more than 2,300 kilometres from Tonga, 120 people were evacuated from northern coastal areas and several boats destroyed when a huge wave crashed into a marina.

Australia's popular Bondi Beach in Sydney was briefly evacuated as a precaution while in California, coastal streets in Santa Cruz were awash and closed to traffic.

People evacuate the coastline in Chile following a tsunami preventive advisory generated by local authorities, after an underwater volcano eruption on the island of Tonga, at the South Pacific, Vina del Mar, Chile, Jan 15, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

The Ecuadorian Navy Oceanographic Institute (INOCAR) on Saturday issued a "tsunami warning" to Puerto Ayora, the largest town in central Galapagos Islands, some 1,000 km west from continental Ecuador, due to the eruption of an undersea volcano in Tonga in the South Pacific.

The agency said in a statement that "significant variations in sea level have been recorded in the Academy Bay on Santa Cruz Island," where Puerto Ayora is located.

People observe big waves in the breakwater in Venice beach on January 15, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. [Photo/Agencies]

Concerns mount for Tonga

Pacific nations and humanitarian groups struggled to establish communications with Tonga on Sunday after a tsunami triggered by a massive volcanic eruption cut telephone and internet connections, raising concerns for the tiny island nation.

Internet and phone lines went down at about 6.40 pm local time on Saturday, leaving the 105,000 residents on the islands virtually uncontactable.

There were no reports of injuries or deaths as yet but communications were limited, said Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand.

Satellite images captured the volcanic eruption on Saturday as the explosion sent plumes of smoke into the air. The sky over Tonga was darkened by the ash.

 

People observe big waves in the breakwater in Venice beach on January 15, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. [Photo/Agencies]

 

No damage to California coast by tsunami

California, Oregon, and Washington state, as well as parts of Hawaii, south Alaska and the Aleutian islands were all expected to also be affected by the huge eruption, following the undersea volcano. As of Saturday noon local time, there was no report of damage to the California coast.

Tsunami waves of 2.7 feet (about 83 cm) were observed by gauges at the Tongan capital of Nuku'alofa and waves of 2 feet at Pago Pago, the capital of American Samoa, a US territory, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.

The agency later canceled warnings for American Samoa and Hawaii, but said the tsunami remained a threat for parts of the Pacific nearer the volcano, warning residents living near beaches, harbors, marinas and other coastal areas should move away from the shore and make their way inland or uphill.

AFP/Reuters/Xinhua

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