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Tonga issues tsunami alert after 7.3 magnitude earthquake strikes off coast

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(LONDON) — A tsunami alert has been issued for the tiny island nation of Tonga after a 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck off the country’s coast.

The quake hit at sea just before 11 p.m. local time approximately 128 miles from the Tongan capital of Nukuʻalofa at a depth of 15.4 miles.

“A strong earthquake has occurred near Tonga and felt in whole of Tonga,” the government said in a press release issuing the tsunami alert. “A dangerous tsunami could occur in minutes. You are advised to evacuate immediately inland to high ground or to the 3rd level of a steel or concrete building until the threat has passed. Mariners are advised to move to deep ocean away from reefs.”

In January, a volcanic eruption caused a tsunami that damaged or destroyed villages, resorts and knocked out an underwater communications cable.

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