Monday, 1 March 2010

Tsunami Alert

New Zealand has been on tsunami-alert for the last 24 hours. There were some unusual tidal patterns during that time, but nothing to cause any damage or panic. I should think it served as a good test run for the Civil Defence organisation, which seemed to perform efficiently in monitoring the situation, disseminating information and giving appropriate warnings to the public.

New Zealand has a very long coastline, a half of it east-facing with no land barriers between it and the west coast of South America. The public here are well informed about the risk of tsunami following earthquakes in (or off) South America. Yet, incredibly, there were still those who ignored yesterday's warnings and blithely continued with their Sunday beach-walking, surfing and swimming. One fellow facing a television camera was asked why he was there. "Just having a look at what's going on. If anything happens, I'll run like hell!" he said, then laughed maniacally. Then there was the blonde bimbo in a bikini. "Well, there's so many warnings, y'know, an' nothin' ever happens, does it?" So many warnings? Well, in 60-odd years, I don't recall more than perhaps three or four tsunami warnings.

A couple of worrying things occur to me. First, how many more lame-brains are going to ignore warnings next time, knowing that no life-threatening tidal event eventuated on this occasion? Second, what sort of a message is being delivered by television crews on the beaches, themselves disregarding Civil Defence warnings for no other reason than to film non-essential interviews?

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