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Chile quake impacts on Northland likely low risk

17 Sep 2015

Officials continue to urge Northlanders to adopt a prudent approach in the wake of a large Chilean earthquake which experts now predict is likely to have only a relatively minor impact on our region.

The Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management (MCDEM) issued its first official tsunami warning (marine and beach threat) for East Cape, Chatham Islands, Coromandel and Banks Peninsula at just after noon today in the wake of the reportedly 8.3 magnitude quake.  That warning did not officially include Northland.

The Ministry’s latest update – issued just after 1400 hours – comes after further analysis by MCDEM and its scientific advisors and expands the warning to the Chatham Islands, Coromandel Peninsula, Gisborne, Napier/Hastings, Christchurch North, Banks Peninsula and Mid to South Canterbury.

Northland CDEM Group spokesman Graeme MacDonald says once again, the latest warning still contains no official specific concerns for Northland.

However, he says those advisors believe tidal variations of up to 30 centimetres could still affect parts of the region’s east coast from North Cape to Cape Karikari from some time after midnight.

Similar large overseas earthquakes in recent years resulted in strong tidal flows and surges being felt around Northland, including noticeably on Tutukaka Harbour and other small harbours.

Mr MacDonald says given that, the Northland CDEM Group continued to advise people in the region to take a common sense approach to the situation as it develops.

“It now appears that the quake will have a relatively low impact on our region overnight, but our advice remains that given the strong tides etcetera likely to be involved, it’d be sensible for those in Northland’s eastern coastal areas to stay out of the water (including boaties) and stay off beaches from late this evening.”

He says Civil Defence officials will monitor the situation closely and the Northland CDEM Group will release new information as appropriate.

This will be posted on the Northland Civil Defence Emergency Management Group’s (CDEM) Facebook page – www.facebook.com/civildefencenorthland  – or the Northland Regional Council’s website via www.nrc.govt.nz/civildefence  

Given the latest assessment, it was now unlikely tsunami sirens would be activated locally, however, if they were it was important to realise they are not designed to trigger evacuations.

“Rather, they’re designed to alert people that they need to seek further information about potential tsunami risks from official sources.”

“Information about the North’s tsunami siren network warning system, including audio of what the sirens sound like can be found at www.nrc.govt.nz/tsunamisirens