Loud bangs rattle city residents

Police training exercises have come under fire for the second time in less than a week after Christchurch residents were rattled by a series of startling bangs in the middle of the night.

Three loud bangs were reported by people across the city about 11.45pm yesterday. The noise was made during a police training exercise in an abandoned building in the central city.

Tactical commander Inspector Steve Mather said that last night's three ''near simultaneous'' explosions were part of a police tactical group training exercise.

Police communications received about 20 calls from residents reporting explosions or loud bangs in the 20 minutes after.

Residents took to social media websites to express their frustration.

On Trade Me's Christchurch earthquake message board, one person wrote that they called the police after hearing the bangs and were told it was related to a police exercise.

''Apparently they are getting a LOT of calls,'' the person wrote.

Another queried why police were holding such an exercise at that time of night.

''My nerves can't handle this kind of stupidity, what are they thinking? And what are they training for? How to deal with the panicking public in the midst of flooding?'' they said.

''Agreed, I have a very nervous household here as well,'' another poster said. ''Many peeps are still very fragile.''

On Twitter, several people wondered whether the noise had been caused by cannons.

Another person said the noises woke them up. ''Heart beating like those old #eqnz days.''

It is the second time police training exercises at quake-affected sites have been questioned by the public in the past week.

On Friday, a group of 12-year-olds on their way home from school ran in fear from what they thought were armed police hunting a dangerous fugitive in Avondale.

It turned out to be the national police special tactics group that had been making use of the opportunity to train in empty red-zoned houses.

Mather said about 70 staff had been training in Christchurch and other parts of Canterbury since last week, and last night's exercise marked the end of the training.

The Press