The United States has issued a Tsunami alert for the West Coast after a gigantic underwater volcano erupted near Tonga's largest island, Tongatapu, sending a cloud of ash and gas steam into the air.
According to Australia’s meteorology bureau, the eruption of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai, about 65km north of capital Nuku’alofa, caused a Tsunami measuring 1.2 metres.
On Friday the volcano sent ash, steam and gas up to 20km into the air, Tonga Geological Services said in a Facebook post.
However, there are no immediate reports of injuries or deaths so far in Tonga or elsewhere.
The US National Weather Service for San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area warned residents to expect waves of up to three feet throughout the day and potential coastal floods in low-lying areas.
An alert issued afterwards warned locals to get out of the water and stay away from waterfronts, beaches, harbours, marinas and other coastal areas.
Boat operators were told to get their boats at least 180 feet up onto dry land.
“Do not go to the shore to observe the tsunami,” it cautioned.
County officials in Berkeley warned, “People in Berkeley Marina, Get Out Of Your Boat And Off The Docks Now. Evacuation Order is due to a tusnami that is scheduled to arrive in Berkeley at 8.10am.”
A Tsunami advisory means that strong currents and dangerous waves are imminent and people should stay out of the water.
It is one step short of a tsunami warning, which advises people to move urgently to high ground or inland.
People in the Pacific Island nation of Tonga have been forced to flee their homes while streets and buildings have flooded, as Tsunami waves crashed onto the main island of Tongatapu.
New Zealand’s emergency management agency issued an advisory on Tsunami activity for its North and East coasts, stating that some parts of the nation could expect “strong and unusual currents and unpredictable surges at the shore following a large volcanic eruption”.
Meanwhile, New Zealand’s military said it was monitoring the situation and remained on standby.
Australia’s federal government is also “monitoring the situation” and is “ready to provide support to Tonga if requested”.
The Tonga Meteorological Services said a Tsunami warning had been put in force for the whole nation.
Authorities in the nearby island nations of Fiji and Samoa have also issued warnings, telling people to avoid the shoreline due to dangerous waves.
The Japan Meteorological Agency said there may be some swelling of the water along Japanese coasts, but it is not expected to cause any damage.
Tsunami waves measuring 2ft in height were also generated in American Samoa after the volcanic eruption.
In a statement, the Pacific tsunami warning centre in Honolulu said that “based on all available data, there is a threat to American Samoa of sea-level fluctuations and strong ocean currents that could be a hazard along beaches, in harbours and in coastal waters”.
A Tonga business news site reported that a convoy of police and military troops evacuated the island’s King Tupou VI from his palace near the shore, taking him to higher ground.