Revellers unaware of tsunami threat

Waitangi Day celebrations continued in Kaikoura with concert goers oblivious to any potential danger.
Waitangi Day celebrations continued in Kaikoura with concert goers oblivious to any potential danger.

Waitangi Day celebrations continued in Kaikoura yesterday afternoon with revellers at the One Earth One Love concert oblivious to any potential danger.

Despite tsunami warnings for the entire coast of New Zealand following a magnitude 8 earthquake in the Santa Cruz islands just before 2.15pm, word did not immediately reach concert organisers or the families at South Bay Domain who were enjoying music and other entertainment.

The first concert-goers heard of the tsunami threat was about 4pm when the odd text began to trickle in from friends and family watching the news.

However, there seemed to be no immediate danger for Kaikoura, and no-one seemed concerned to leave the site.

Kaikoura District Council's civil defence officer Don Clark said any wave would not hit New Zealand until about 8pm when the concert would be well over.

By 5pm, Kaikoura had been removed from the tsunami warnings.

The tsunami that was generated by a powerful earthquake in the Solomon Islands left at least five people dead, houses destroyed and most of the Pacific Rim, including New Zealand, on alert.

The 8.0 magnitude quake hit the eastern part of the Solomons at 2.12pm and immediately generated a 1.5-metre wave that surged through several low-lying villages.

The tsunami alert was quickly issued for neighbouring countries, with waves up to 1m expected to hit parts of the New Zealand coastline.

The waves were not expected to be damaging, but the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management had warned that swimmers and boaties in some coastal areas would need to take care.

Reports of damage in the Solomon Islands were still emerging, but Lata hospital, in the eastern province of Temotu on the Santa Cruz islands, confirmed five people from the villages hit had died. They included two couples and a boy aged under 12.

A hospital spokesman said it was unclear if anyone else was dead.

Four Santa Cruz villages were hit by the waves, with two facing severe damage, Solomon Islands Police Commissioner John Lansley said.

Other areas of the islands did not appear to have been seriously affected.

Andrew Catford, the country director for World Vision, said there were reports that about 100 houses in the area had been destroyed.

Emergency services were working last night to assess further damage to the islands and find out if more people had been injured and killed.

The quake was a shallow 5.8 kilometres deep and the epicentre was 347km east of Kira Kira in the Solomons.

Several large aftershocks, ranging between 5.2 to 6.6 in magnitude, hit after the initial quake.

More than 50 people were killed and thousands lost their homes in April 2007 when a magnitude 8.1 quake hit the western Solomon Islands, sending waves crashing into coastal villages.

Fairfax NZ

The Marlborough Express