20 Mar 2009

Tsunami warning issued for Tonga, Samoa and Fiji following quake in Tonga

9:02 am on 20 March 2009

A major 7.9-magnitude earthquake has struck off the Tonga Islands leading the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre to issue a tsunami warning for Tonga, Samoa and Fiji.

The quake, which hit at 6.17am local time, was centred 210 kilometres south-southeast of the Tongan capital Nuku'Alofa.

The US Geological Survey says it struck at a depth of 10 kilometres.

A tsunami warning was issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre for Tonga, Niue, Kermadec Islands, American Samoa, Samoa and Fiji.

The director of the met office in Tonga, Ofa Faanunu, says it has sent all the appropriate information to the right groups.

"We have issued the warning for all of Tonga on National radio, I can't say for sure as I'm at the met office and not at the airport, but I would imagine that people have evacuated to higher ground."

Ofa Faanunu says there has so far been no reports of damage on the main island of Tongatapu.