16 January 2022

Volcanic eruption sparks tsunami warning for the South Coast

| Kim Treasure
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Swimmers are being urged to stay out of the water this morning. Photo: Kim Treasure.

A tidal surge caused by a volcanic eruption in Tonga has already hit Eden today, 16 January 2022, and is expected to continue to affect the NSW South Coast this morning.

Boaters, fishers and swimmers are being urged to stay out of the water while a marine warning remains in place.

The marine warning for Australia’s east coast was generated by an undersea volcano erupting near Tonga. The Bureau of Meteorology said the Hunga Tonga-Hung Ha’apai volcano erupted at 3:10 pm AEDT on Saturday, generating a tsunami.

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Emergency authorities have advised people to get out of the water and move away from the immediate water’s edge of harbours, coastal estuaries, rock platforms and beaches until the threat passes.

The tsunami is likely to manifest as a tidal surge by the time it reaches the South Coast and is expected to pass this morning.

Tsunami waves are more powerful than the same size beach waves. There will be many waves and the first wave may not be the largest.

At 4:54 am on Sunday, the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre said a marine warning remained in place for NSW, covering all coastal areas.

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It said there was the possibility of dangerous rips, waves and strong ocean currents, and some “localised overflow” onto the immediate foreshore.

Footage from Tonga shows waves rolling through coastal homes as a fresh tsunami warnings were issued on Saturday afternoon, prompting residents of the Pacific island nation to flee to higher ground.

The Australian Government said it was working to determine a damage assessment and what assistance may be required.

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