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Tsunami warning for US West Coast after Tonga eruption

SAN FRANCISCO – Tsunami warnings were issued Saturday for the entire US West Coast after a massive volcanic eruption across the Pacific Ocean in Tonga, with tsunami waves triggering low-level flooding in Hawaii.

The US National Weather Service issued tsunami advisories from California to Alaska, predicting waves of up to two feet (60 centimetres), strong rip currents and coastal flooding. “Move off the beach and out of harbors and marinas in these areas,” it advised.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said “a tsunami is currently being observed” in Hawaii, but said there was “no reported damage and only minor flooding throughout the islands.”

A tsunami hit Tonga’s largest island, Tongatapu, and reportedly sent waves flooding into the capital after an underwater volcano in the South Pacific exploded in a violent eruption on Saturday, sending a cloud of ash and gas steam into the air.

A tsunami warning was also issued for the islands of Tonga and parts of Japan. Tsunami advisories have also been issued for New Zealand’s North Island and the west coast of the United States from California to Alaska, as well as Canada’s British Columbia.

Tonga’s King evacuated from Royal Palace after tsunami flooded capital

Waves crossed the shoreline of Tonga’s capital, Nuku’alofa, on Saturday, flowing onto coastal roads and flooding properties, according to CNN affiliate Radio New Zealand (RNZ).

Tonga’s King Tupou VI was evacuated from the Royal Palace after the tsunami flooded the capital, RNZ reported, citing local media reports that a convoy of police and troops rushed the monarch to a villa at Mata Ki Eua. Residents headed for higher ground, RNZ said, as waves swept the palace grounds, waterfront and main streets.

Tonga, a Pacific country, was hit by tsunami waves after an underwater volcano eruption.

Tonga Geological Services said gas smoke and ash plumes reached 20km into the sky when the eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haʻapai volcano occurred at 0410 GMT and the eight-minute initial eruption was heard across the South Pacific, reportedly as far as New Zealand and Australia.