Tonga earthquake: tsunami warning downgraded after 7.3 magnitude quake hits off coast of Polynesian country

Residents of Tonga were told to move to higher ground amid warnings a tsunami could hit after an earthquake hit the coast off the Polynesian country

The coast off Tonga has been hit by a 7.3 magnitude earthquake. The quake took place around 128 miles from the capital of Nuku’alofa.

According to the United States Geological Survey, the earthquake hit a depth of 15.4 miles. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center also said that the coasts of Tonga and nearby Niue could be hit by a tsunami wave as a result of the powerful quake.

Following the event, residents of Tonga were warned of a potential tsunami. They were told to reach higher ground to take “special caution” while officials assessed the siutation.

However, the tsunami warning has now been downgraded. Authorities have removed the warning and allowed resident to return to their homes.

The warning came after the country was hit by a tsunami earlier this year. In January 2022, the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano erupted and caused destruction for more than 100,000 people and knocked out communication lines to the nation.

What did authorities say about the tsunami warning?

Updating residents on social media, the Tongan meterological service previously said: “An urgent tsunami advisory is now in force for all of Tonga due to a strong earthquake being felt in the Kingdom tonight. Please move inland immediately until further advised.”

However, the Tonga government has issued an updated statement in which it said that tsunami waves were only registering at one foot tall. It read: “Based on tide gauge observation in Tonga, a tsunami wave of 10 centimeters was recorded in Neiafu, Vava’u, 6 centimeters in Niuatoputapu and 5 centimeters recorded in Nuku’alofa tide gauge at 1 a.m. this morning.”

However, resident are still urged to remain cautious around coastal areas. This is due to ocean currents which “may be strong and erratic”.

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