Australia issues tsunami warning after Pacific volcanic eruption

CANBERRA, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- A tsunami warning has been issued for Australia's east coast after a massive underwater volcanic eruption off the coast of Tonga.

In a statement published on Saturday night, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) issued a marine threat warning for parts of New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania and Victoria as a result of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai eruption on Saturday afternoon.

Photo: Bureau of Meteorology of the Australian Government

The blast led to tsunami warnings across the Pacific. The BOM said tsunami waves were observed.

"The size of these waves means the threat is for the marine environment for the east coast of Australia, and for land on Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island; however the situation will be closely monitored and warnings updated as required," it said.

"People in land-warning zones are strongly advised to move one kilometer inland or go to high ground at least 10 meters above sea level.

"While evacuations are not necessary for marine warning zones, people in these areas are advised to leave the water and move away from the immediate water's edge."

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has established a helpline for Australian residents with friends and families in Tonga who could have been affected.

A spokesperson said that "initial assessments are still underway and DFAT is working to ensure Australians in Tonga are safe and accounted for."