National quake drill hailed a success

BEN HEATHER
Last updated 10:42 26/09/2012
Fairfax NZ

More than a million New Zealanders dropped to the ground this morning and searched for the closest table.

Hairdressers (from left) Michelle Beck, Chloe McGill, Jacqueline Sharland, Samantha Wheal, client Jackie Kirwan-Green, and hairdresser Hannah Drummond, take cover.
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON Zoom
Hairdressers (from left) Michelle Beck, Chloe McGill, Jacqueline Sharland, Samantha Wheal, client Jackie Kirwan-Green, and hairdresser Hannah Drummond, take cover.

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More than a million New Zealanders dropped to the ground this morning and searched for the closest table.

Civil Defence Ministry Vince Cholewa said early indications showed the nationwide ShakeOut drill had been a success, with more than 1.3 million people participating at 9.26 this morning.

Around the country some people took the drill more seriously than others with several coastal schools, including Owhiro Bay School in Wellington, coupling the drill with a tsunami evacuation.

At the Te Aroha and District Community Hospital in the Waikato, the drill will continue into the night with staff shutting off water and power mains for 24 hours.

The earth itself also contributed a token effort, with a small magnitude-2.8 shake at 9.21am, about 25km south of Whanganui.

In Parliament, Hawke's Bay children crammed under tables and chairs at Civil Defence minister Chris Tremain's office.

Tremain, who jumped under his table with the children, urged them to stay put and hold on.

He the drill was a great success and would encourage people around New Zealand to think more carefully about preparing for a major disaster.

"You can just imagine how all those kids in Christchurch felt when the real quake struck," he told the children.

The drill was announced 20 minutes before it was due to start at Wellington Airport on loudspeakers.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown was there, participating.

Wade-Brown, who travels with an emergency plan declaration form and a spare iPhone battery said the drill was a big success, a sentiment shared by Wellington region Civil Defence manager Bruce Pepperell.

He said this morning's drill was mostly to reinforce the "drop, cover, hold" message, as well as "the whole process of getting people to prepare themselves and friends and neighbours for an emergency.''
Wellingtonian Alana Marsh, 18, had just returned from Costa Rica where she experienced a magnitude-7.6 earthquake.

She had been doing volunteer work with sea turtles on a beach when the quake struck, which was strong enough to shift sand levels on the beach. She and friends had immediately fled to higher ground.

"It was pretty wild," Marsh said.

"It was like the earthquake house at Te Papa."

About 170,000 Wellingtonians were registered to take part in this morning's drill.

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- The Dominion Post

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