A tsunami warning has been issued across parts of Australia as the Pacific reacts to the eruption of an undersea volcano in Tonga.
The warning covers the east coast of Australia, as well as Tasmania, and residents on Lord Howe Island have been ordered to evacuate their homes.
The Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre issued the guidance just before midnight on Saturday 15 January and continues to monitor the situation.
This warning was issued after citizens of the small Pacific nation of Tonga were ordered to leave their homes and seek higher ground after a huge eruption caused the second tsunami in as many days.
1.14.2021: Large volcanic eruption near Tonga (Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano) today as seen from outer space. Shown on visible imagery using the Himawari satellite. #hiwx #tsunami #earthquake pic.twitter.com/zOTj6Qu1Wv— NWSHonolulu (@NWSHonolulu) January 15, 2022
The explosion was so violent that it was heard in neighbouring countries such as Fiji.
The New South Wales Emergency Service has told the people of Lord Howe Island to move to pre-ordained assembly areas.
The advice said: “For low-lying coastal areas of Lord Howe Island there is a threat of major land inundation, flooding, dangerous rips, waves and strong ocean currents commencing after 7:30pm (local time) Saturday and persisting for several hours,”
The land warnings on Australia’s outlying islands to the east are for threats of flooding and land inundation.
The warning states that residents are ‘strongly advised by emergency authorities to go to higher ground or at least 1 kilometre inland’.
‘Unusual currents and waves’ have already been observed on Lord Howe Island, as waves of one metre and 10 centimetres have been observed.
Further towards the Australian mainland, a 50-centimetre surge has been seen in Derwent Park marina on the island of Tasmania.
On the mainland, much of the east coast is under a marine warning, urging people to stay out of the water.
That covers all coastal areas of New South Wales and some parts of Queensland.
The advice states: “In areas with a threat to the marine environment only, emergency authorities advise people to get out of the water and move away from the immediate water’s edge of harbours, coastal estuaries, rock platforms and beaches.”
The warnings come after the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai erupted, causing two tsunamis in Tonga already.
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology tweeted: “A 1.2 metre tsunami wave has been observed at [the Tongan capital] Nukualofa."
One eyewitness told Stuff: “It was massive, the ground shook, our house was shaking. It came in waves. My younger brother thought bombs were exploding nearby,”
“We just knew straight away it was a tsunami. Just water gushing into our home.
“You could just hear screams everywhere, people screaming for safety, for everyone to get to higher ground.”
The volcano is around 40 miles north of the Tongan capital on an uninhabited island.