South on tsunami watch

Last updated 18:05 06/02/2013

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A small tsunami generated by the magnitude 8 earthquake near Solomon Island this afternoon is predicted to reach Fiordland and the Southland coast about 8pm.

Emergency Management Southland said modelling by the national expert tsunami panel suggested the tsunami was likely to be between 20cm and 1 metre high and should not cause damage on the shore.

However, there could be significant disturbance to currents and tides, so boat operators are being warned to be on alert and the public is urged to stay well away from inlets, beaches and rocky shores.

Manager Neil Cruickshank said historical experience and modelling suggested the largest waves would be anything up to 2-8 hours after the first arrivals. People are advised to:

1. Stay out of the water (sea, rivers and estuaries, including boating activities)
2. Stay off beaches and shore areas
3. Do not go sightseeing
4. Share this information with family, neighbours and friends
5. Listen to the radio and/or TV for updates
6. Follow instructions of local civil defence authorities

Mr Cruickshank said even though the modelling showed the tsunami would not be big enough to cause damage on the shore, Emergency Southland had used the alert to test local civil defence arrangements for responding quickly to a tsunami.

"Emergencies occur at any time, and without warning, and we have to be able to mount an effective response even on public holidays or in the middle of the night," he said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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