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Natural disasters

Tsunami warnings issued after 7.3 quake strikes Tonga region

American Samoa tells residents to move inland, to higher ground

In this satellite image from January, an underwater volcano off Tonga erupts, triggering a tsunami warning for several South Pacific island nations.   © Reuters

(Reuters) -- The government of Tonga issued a tsunami warning on Friday after a magnitude 7.3 earthquake struck about 207 kilometers from the capital, warning residents to move inland to higher ground.

The earthquake was under the seabed at a depth of 24.8 km and about 207 km east-southeast of Neiafu, according to the United States Geological Survey.

A tsunami advisory was also issued for American Samoa, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. Hazardous tsunami waves from the earthquake are possible within 300 km of the epicenter along the coasts of Niue and Tonga, it said.

Tonga's meteorological service warned residents to move inland.

"An urgent tsunami advisory is now in force for all of Tonga due to a strong earthquake being felt in the Kingdom tonight. Please move inland immediately until further advised," it said on its Facebook page.

In January, the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano eruption triggered a tsunami that destroyed villages and resorts and knocked out communications for the South Pacific nation of about 105,000 people. At least three people were killed.

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