A tsunami warning was issued in Japan for the first time in five years after an underground volcano erupted near Tonga on Saturday in the Southern Pacific. Tsunami warnings were also issued in other countries near the Pacific including the U.S., New Zealand and Canada.
According to Kyodo News and other news agencies, Japan’s Meteorological Agency issued a tsunami warning at 00:15 on Saturday saying, “Waves as high as three meters could be observed in some southwestern islands.” A tsunami alert was issued for the first time in five years since a 7.4 scale earthquake occurred near Fukushima in November 2016. About 230,000 residents in eight municipalities were ordered to evacuate for safety.
The Japanese Meteorological Agency said tsunami waves of under 1 meter were observed in coastal areas from Hokkaido from Okinawa on Sunday. The alert was removed, with Iwate prefecture being the last to be removed, and reduced to weather warning around 11:20 a.m. Warnings were eventually removed as well around 2:00 p.m. on the same day.
A 100-year-old female living in Amami, Kagoshima prefecture fell and injured her head while evacuating from the Tsunami alert, but the injury was not life-threatening. Some small boats near coastal Murotoshi of Kochi prefecture and Mie prefecture had been overturned or drowned. Around 500 units of oyster rafts were drifted away or destroyed in Toba of Mie prefecture.
The underground volcano that erupted near Tonga was captured on satellite photo, according to The Associated Press. Gas and fume in the shape of a large mushroom was observed to be exploding out of the Pacific. The sound could be heard from New Zealand, 1,700 kilometers away from the volcano eruption. “We were not able to send reconnaissance flights to Tonga due to ash which has been spotted as high as 19 kilometers in height,” said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference held on Sunday. “We hope to send reconnaissance flights, along with air freights and navy vessels on Jan 17.”
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