12 Mar 2011

Tongans crowd only elevated area on main island as tsunami threatens

1:14 am on 12 March 2011

People across Tonga have been seeking higher ground after warnings over the tsunami triggered by the huge earthquake off Japan.

Tonga Broadcasting reports many people have begun fleeing to higher ground on the main island of Tongatapu which is very flat.

Radio and TV Tonga report calls from the public wondering where they should flee to.

Warnings and precautions from authorities have advised them to flee to the only elevated areas of Mataki'eua and 'Atele, about six kilometres from the Nuku'alofa Central Business District.

As of midnight these two areas were packed with people.

The director of the Meteorological Office, 'Ofa Fa'anunu, has advised the public to take the necessary precautions and to make early preparations.

Government geologist, Kelepi Mafi, says people should be very careful and take heed of all the warnings.

The warning advises all people in coastal and low lying areas across Tonga to pay special attention to Radio Tonga for directions and warnings.

It says it's essential to take precautions now and move inland and to higher ground and wait for further advice.

Mariners are advised to stay away from the coast or move to deep ocean.

The wave is due to hit at around 5 a.m. local time.