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Tsunami reports welcomed

Media release: Auckland Region Civil Defence Emergency Management Group

Tsunami reports welcomed

20 December 2005

The Auckland Region Civil Defence Emergency Management Group welcomes the reports released today that look into the risk of tsunami in New Zealand, and our preparedness to deal with one if it were to occur.

In addition to these reports, a considerable amount of work has been undertaken over the past year into tsunami and their impact on Auckland, and the Group says that the region is likely to have considerable warning of an approaching tsunami.

Chairman Neil Morrison says that in addition to research undertaken by the Auckland Regional Council, the Group is currently assessing processes for issuing warnings to people throughout the Auckland region.

"With a population of 1.3 million people, one of the greatest challenges we face in the event of any emergency, is how to tell people about where to go and what to do. The work underway looks at these processes in detail, and considers the various options we have to warn people in advance to help minimise any impact," Cr Morrison says.

ARC Hazard Analyst, Jane Olsen, says that over the past year the ARC's research has looked at the frequency, size and likely sources of tsunami that could affect the region. Ongoing research will focus on modelling tsunami inundation to gain a better understanding of evacuation requirements, and the impact that a tsunami would have on the region itself.

"The most likely cause of a tsunami in Auckland would be a large earthquake off the west coast of South America, which would take approximately 12 hours to reach Auckland. If this occurred, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii would notify New Zealand, and would then monitor the tsunami as it moves west towards New Zealand and the islands of the Pacific."

Ms Olsen says that unlike other parts of New Zealand, Auckland is not low-lying, therefore it is relatively easy for people to quickly reach a safe place that is at least 10 metres above sea level.

Cr Morrison says that the release of the reports, and the impending first anniversary of the Boxing Day tsunami that devastated parts of Asia, is also a timely reminder that while natural disasters such as tsunami cannot be prevented, there are some simple steps that people can take to help minimise the impact and to better equip people to cope:

* Read the back of the Yellow Pages. There is a significant amount of helpful information about emergencies.

* Have a 'B Ready' kit ready, which includes key survival equipment (e.g. radio and batteries, torch, water - 3 litres per person/day, food). More information is available online at www.auckland.cdemg.org.nz or by phoning 0800 22 22 00.

* Know your hazards and plan to avoid them (e.g. falling objects, loss of water and power, evacuating your home). More information is available online at www.arc.govt.nz/environment/hazards .

* In an emergency, listen to the radio for information and make sure you and your home are safe.

"While it is Civil Defence's job to co-ordinate all activity when a disaster hits, but the overall success of the region's ability to cope relies heavily on how prepared individuals, families and communities are. Emergency management is everyone's business."

ENDS

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