A shallow, strong earthquake measuring 7.3 magnitude struck Friday at sea about 130 miles off the coast of Tonga, prompting tsunami warnings across the Pacific island region.
The quake, first reported by the United States Geological Survey, began at 11:48 p.m. local time at a depth of 15 miles. Tsunami warnings have been issued for Tonga, Niue and American Samoa.
Dangerous waves from the earthquake were possible within 300 kilometers or 186 miles of the epicenter along the coasts of Niue and Tonga, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. American Samoa, further north, could also be affected.
In Tonga — which experienced a devastating volcanic eruption on January 15 that resulted in a tsunami — officials issued an urgent national tsunami warning, advising people to go to the third floor of buildings unless they could flee to higher elevations . resident photos posted Online evacuation centers are filling up.
Emergency sirens could be heard at videos posted on social media as residents – on low-lying islands already grappling with seas rising from the global alert – called for calm and prayers.
“If I thought I would never have to relive an incident that happened on January 15th, climate change has proved me wrong,” wrote one local resident on twitter, posted a video of cars lined up trying to get out of danger. “Please keep Tonga in your prayers.”
This is an evolving story. Check for updates again.