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Tsunami reaches Japan, 3-meter waves possible—meteorological agency

/ 12:06 PM January 16, 2022
Tsunami reaches Japan, 3-meter waves possible—meteorological agency

(FILES) This file photo taken on December 21, 2021 shows white gaseous clouds rising from the Hunga Ha’apai eruption seen from the Patangata coastline near Tongan capital Nuku’alofa. – Frightened Tongans fled to higher ground on January 15, 2022 after the latest eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano — heard in neighbouring countries — triggered tsunami warnings across the South Pacific. (Photo by Mary Lyn FONUA / AFP)

TOKYO — Tsunami reached Japan late Saturday through early Sunday, and waves as high as three meters were possible, the Japan Meteorological Agency said, hours after a massive volcanic eruption near Tonga.

The agency said a 1.2 meter (about four feet) tsunami reached the remote southern island of Amami Oshima around 11:55 pm (1455 GMT) Saturday before other areas along Japan’s Pacific coast observed smaller tsunami.

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The eastern shores of northernmost Hokkaido island as well as southwestern regions of Kochi and Wakayama also saw tsunami as high as 0.9 meters shortly after midnight, the agency said.

National broadcaster NHK switched to special programming and aired live footage from ports of affected regions, calling on area residents to evacuate to higher ground.

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The footage showed no clear signs of abnormality, however.

A weather agency official told a televised, midnight news conference that the agency had detected a tidal change higher than one meter after 11 pm.

The agency didn’t immediately classify it as tsunami. However, it decided to activate the public tsunami warning systems to urge the evacuation of Amami residents.

“We don’t know at this point whether this is tsunami, but a strong tidal change has been observed, so we’re urging residents to respond,” the official told the press conference.

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