A Tsunami warning alert this morning which placed Gisborne Civil Defence on full alert has now been cancelled.
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The alert for Fiji and New Zealand was issued automatically by the from Pacific Tsunami Warning Center after the large earthquake, initially thought to measure 8.1 and later revised to 7.8, on the richter scale struck at 3.27am this morning NZT.
Tide buoys initially indicated that a Tsunami had been generated by the quake.
While New Zealand slept the warning was carried widely by cable news channels around the globe. New Zealand was expected to receive any effects from a wave after 6am this morning and Civil Defence and the police went on alert. However no evacuations were ordered and the warning was cancelled before the wave was expected to reach New Zealand.
The official warning alert was cancelled shortly before 6am this morning (See bulletin from PTWC below) and any Tsunami generated by the quake is now thought to have been strictly local.
POSTSCRIPT: While no official evacuation was ordered in Gisborne hundreds of seaside residents picked up news of the Tsunami from International news reports and evacuated of their own accord.
The National Civil Defence coordinator has now acknowledged that the reason that they did not issue an evacuation order is that by around 4am NZT they were confident that there was not a damaging Tsunami on the way towards New Zealand.
Latest Bulletin from Pacific Tsunami Warning Center
TSUNAMI BULLETIN NUMBER 003
PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER/NOAA/NWS
ISSUED AT 1736Z 03 MAY 2006
THIS BULLETIN IS FOR ALL AREAS OF THE PACIFIC BASIN
ALASKA - BRITISH COLUMBIA - WASHINGTON - OREGON - CALIFORNIA.
... TSUNAMI WARNING CANCELLATION ...
TSUNAMI WARNING IS CANCELLED FOR ALL COASTAL AREAS AND
IN THE PACIFIC OUTSIDE OF ALASKA - BRITISH COLOMBIA - WASHINGTON -
OREGON - CALIFORNIA. THOSE AREAS SHOULD REFER TO MESSAGES FROM THE
WEST COAST AND ALASKA TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER.
AN EARTHQUAKE HAS OCCURRED WITH THESE PRELIMINARY PARAMETERS
ORIGIN TIME - 1527Z 03 MAY
COORDINATES - 19.9 SOUTH 174.2 WEST
LOCATION - TONGA ISLANDS
MAGNITUDE - 7.8
MEASUREMENTS OR REPORTS OF TSUNAMI WAVE ACTIVITY
LAT LON TIME AMPL PER
------------------- ----- ------ ----- ------ -----
PAGO PAGO 14.3S 170.7W 1636Z 0.15M 24MIN
NIUE 19.1S 169.9W 1603Z 0.21M 10MIN
TIME - TIME OF
AMPL - AMPLITUDE IN METERS FROM MIDDLE TO CREST OR MIDDLE
TO TROUGH OR HALF OF THE CREST TO TROUGH
PER - PERIOD OF TIME FROM ONE WAVE CREST TO THE NEXT
SEA LEVEL READINGS INDICATE A
TSUNAMI WAS GENERATED. IT MAY HAVE
BEEN DESTRUCTIVE ALONG COASTS NEAR THE EARTHQUAKE EPICENTER. FOR
THOSE AREAS - WHEN NO MAJOR WAVES ARE OBSERVED FOR TWO HOURS
AFTER THE ESTIMATED TIME OF ARRIVAL OR DAMAGING WAVES HAVE NOT
OCCURRED FOR AT LEAST TWO HOURS THEN LOCAL AUTHORITIES CAN ASSUME
THE THREAT IS PASSED. DANGER TO BOATS AND COASTAL STRUCTURES CAN
CONTINUE FOR SEVERAL HOURS DUE TO RAPID CURRENTS. AS LOCAL
CONDITIONS CAN CAUSE A WIDE VARIATION IN TSUNAMI WAVE ACTION THE
ALL CLEAR DETERMINATION MUST BE MADE BY LOCAL AUTHORITIES.
NO TSUNAMI THREAT EXISTS FOR OTHER COASTAL AREAS IN THE
ALTHOUGH SOME OTHER AREAS MAY EXPERIENCE SMALL SEA LEVEL CHANGES.
THE TSUNAMI WARNING IS CANCELLED.
THIS WILL BE
THE FINAL BULLETIN ISSUED FOR THIS EVENT
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION BECOMES AVAILABLE.
WEST COAST/ALASKA TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER WILL ISSUE
FOR ALASKA - BRITISH COLUMBIA - WASHINGTON - OREGON - CALIFORNIA.