LONDON -- A tsunami alert has now been lifted after a 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of the tiny Pacific island nation of Tonga.
The quake hit at sea just before 11 p.m. local time Friday 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."
The tsunami alert was lifted at about 3:30 a.m. local time Saturday.
"Based on Tide gauge observation in Tonga, a tsunami wave of less than 5cm was recorded in Neiafu, Vava’u, Niuatoputapu and Nuku’alofa tide gauge at 3am this morning," the government said. "Due to tsunami wave being less than 1 feet, it is expected that this tsunami will no longer pose a threat to Tonga."
New Zealand's National Emergency Management Agency had advised that no tsunami was expected for the island nation, just southwest of Tonga.
In January, a volcanic eruption caused a tsunami that damaged or destroyed villages, resorts and knocked out an underwater communications cable.