Christchurch's Northlands Mall backtracks on Valentines Day earthquake response

Some Northlands Shopping Centre retail workers believe the mall should have been evacuated after Sunday's magnitude 5.7 ...
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/FAIRFAX NZ

Some Northlands Shopping Centre retail workers believe the mall should have been evacuated after Sunday's magnitude 5.7 earthquake.

The owner of Christchurch's Northlands Mall has apologised to retailers and customers for failing to evacuate the building following the Valentines Day earthquake. 

Confusion ensued after the magnitude 5.7 earthquake mall management failed to evacuate the building and issued no advice to retailers or shoppers. 

Adding insult to injury, some stores were told they could be financially penalised for closing. 

In the days following the earthquake, shopping centre bosses defended the way it was handled and blamed police for confusing the situation.

READ MORE:
* Editorial: Northlands Mall fell well short responding to earthquake
* Northlands bosses criticised for confusion in earthquake aftermath 
* The moment the Valentines Day earthquake struck

In a statement on Saturday, Kiwi Property general manager Karl Retief said the company would evacuate the centre following any significant earthquake activity in future.

"Kiwi Property wishes to advise that we have reviewed our procedures and that from hereon will be evacuating the centre following any significant earthquake activity."

Retief said stores that closed after the earthquake would not be penalised. 

"We apologise to our retailers and customers for any concerns experienced following [the February 14] earthquake and advise that in an emergency situation, stores will not be penalised for closing."

An updated earthquake evacuation procedure would be developed, Retief said.

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"We are working with the Northland Centre Management team, in collaboration with the police, to develop an updated set of earthquake evacuation procedures. These will be circulated to all our retailers once finalised."

Hanafins senior salesman Craig Bullock was one of two store employees who lodged formal complaints about the response.

He earlier said retailers assumed they would evacuate after the magnitude 5.7 earthquake struck at 1.13pm. 

Evacuation alarms never sounded and there was no contact from mall management, leaving many wondering what to do, he said.

Eastgate Shopping Centre, The Palms Shopping Centre, and Westfield Riccarton closed after the earthquake. They re-opened the next day after safety checks.

Bullock said Hanafins decided to close its store, but staff were called back because "the mall said we had to continue to trade".

 - Stuff

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