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A strong earthquake hit off the coast of Tonga late on Friday night local time, initially prompting a tsunami warning for the small Pacific Island nation.

While the government had urged residents to seek higher ground, the warning was later rescinded as a dangerous wave failed to materialise.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) recorded a magnitude 7.3 quake 131 miles (211 kilometres) off the coast of Neiafu, Tonga earlier in the night.

“A strong earthquake has occurred near Tonga and felt in whole of Tonga,” the Tongan government said in an initial press release warning of the tsunami risk before it was cancelled.

By 3.30am local time on Saturday, the government had rescinded the tsunami warning for the whole island nation.

“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.”

It is unclear if how much damage was sustained on land in nearby islands from the earthquake itself. USGS estimates that nearby islands would have felt just light shaking, though tsunami alerts from the US Tsunami warning system said that “some areas may have experienced strong shaking.”

A tsunami advisory for nearby American Samoa, a US territory, has also been cancelled. The New Zealand government said there is no tsunami threat to that nation from the quake, either.

Tsunamis can be triggered when a strong earthquake hits under the ocean, displacing water and sending a large wave rippling in all directions, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The potentially dangerous waves can also be caused by disturbances like volcanoes, NOAA adds. In January of this year, a large volcanic eruption in Tonga spurred a tsunami, resulting in flooding as waves crashed into the island nation.

Those waves damaged hundreds of structures in Tonga and spread around the Pacific Ocean, reaching as far as California, South America and Russia, according to USGS. Four people were killed in Tonga and two people were killed in Peru.

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