Beaches cleared as public heed warning

Last updated 13:00 07/02/2013

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Officials are praising the public's response to clear the region's beaches after a tsunami warning was issued following an 8.0 magnitude earthquake in the Solomon Islands.

Nelson emergency services and local civil defence were on the watch for a tsunami on Wednesday evening, but the alert was called off without incident around 9.30pm.

Waves measuring up to a metre were expected between 8pm and 8.30pm, which the Civil Defence described as "on the lower end of the marine threat band".

About 8.25pm five waves were visible entering Tasman Bay. However, they posed no risk to public safety, officials said.

The Ministry of Civil Defence raised the tsunami threat alarm about 7pm and Nelson Tasman Civil Defence, police and fire services patrolled beaches from Cable Bay to the west coast of Golden Bay warning sightseers and swimmers to stay away from the coast.

Community response plans were also activated in Mapua and Marahau.

Nelson District Council community relations manager Angela Ricker said members of the public were very co-operative, although many were unaware of the threat as yesterday was Waitangi Day.

Ms Ricker said large waves were visible from Princes Drive around 8pm.

Nelson Bays acting area commander Inspector Ross Lienert described the public response as "outstanding".

"Often in these situations we get people heading towards the beach to get a closer look, but last evening people co-operated fully and self-evacuated from beaches."

Mr Lienert said everyone was relieved when the emergency response was called off without incident. He said the response went like clockwork.

"Police, along with Fire and Urban Search and Rescue, were required to respond to a request from local Civil Defence and Emergency Management. Our community response plans were activated and that included warning the public at beaches across Nelson Bays of the potential risk from the tsunami.

Tasman District Council representative Chris Choat said the district council worked with Civil Defence and Emergency Management staff to monitor the situation yesterday.

A tsunami generated by the powerful quake in the Solomon Islands left at least five people dead. The earthquake hit the eastern part of the Solomons at 2.12pm and generated a 1.5m wave.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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