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As it happened: South Pacific tsunami

Published: 3:22PM Wednesday February 06, 2013 Source: ONE News

An earthquake and tsunami struck the Pacific today. Read how the event unfolded here.

9:00pm - Civil Defence have lifted the tsunami threat warning for New Zealand.

7:41pm -The Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management has advised that the potential marine and beach threat is likely to last through the early hours of  February 7.  The threat is judged to be low, likely to be undetectable except in enclosed bays that traditionally have abnormal current flows.

7:38pm -ONE News reporter Georgina Ball says that the latest from the Civil Defence is that there is now a "reduced" area which the tsunami watch applies for.

There is now only a national advisory for a tsunami threat for the West Coast of the country, in particular Taranaki to Milford.

6:25pm -  Lata Hospital in the Solomon Islands has confirmed there have been five deaths so far as a result of the tsunami.

They were from two coastal communities. Four of the dead were elderly, two men and two women. One of the dead is a young male, aged 10-12 years old.

6:15pm - The Northland Civil Defence Group Controller says there is no land-based risk of tsunami for Northland although there may be surges and currents at sea.

Because there is no land-based threat, the tsunami sirens have not been sounded. 

Even so, people in coastal areas should still be sensible and:

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

Have you seen a tidal surge or changes on the water in your area? Let us know or send us your images and video. Send to news@tvnz.co.nz

6:15pm - Officials in the Solomon Islands have told ONE News Pacific correspondent Barbara Dreaver there have been reports of missing people, however they say its too early to speculate on numbers.

"Medical staff are now at the scene trying to see who needs help," she says.

Dreaver says officials have told her it has been a very panic stricken day for people in the Pacific.

Image below shows school children in Fiji being evacuated under tsunami warning.



5:50pm -Japan's Meteorological Agency says it expects a 20cm tsunami to reach the country within the next few hours.

The small size of the tsunami meant it did not merit a tsunami warning and people were not being asked to leave costal areas, a JMA spokesman said.

5:50pm - Luke Taula, a fisheries officer in Lata on Santa Cruz Island, which took the brunt of the tsunami, told Reuters it arrived in small tidal surges rather than as one large wave.

"We have small waves come in, then go out again, then come back in. The waves have reached the airport terminal," he told Reuters by telephone.

The worst damage would be to villages on the western side of a point that protects the main township, he said.

"There are no casualties reported so far. But there are reports that some communities have been badly hit, their houses have been damaged by the waves."

5:45pm -  Civil Defence is still warning New Zealanders to avoid low lying coastal areas and say the tsunami watch is still in place.

ONE News reporter Matt McLean who is currently at the National Civil Defence Emergency base in Wellington says scientists are looking at the direction and movement of water.

Until they have determined exactly what is going to happen at around six or seven this evening, that watch will remain in place.

He says Civil Defence is expecting that a wave no greater than 1m will hit the North Cape between 6pm and 7pm.  Anyone around a coastal area is reminded to stay off beaches.

5:30pm - ABC News quotes emergency services on the Santa Cruz Islands, in the Solomons, as confirming the tsunami has destroyed three villages.

5:00pm - The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre has cancelled its tsunami watch and warning for all Pacific Islands and New Zealand.

However the Civil Defence in New Zealand is still waiting for confirmation on the change of status.

4:35pm - ONE News Pacific correspondent Barbara Dreaver says people she has spoken to on Kiribati are very worried about the tsunami threat.

Currently people on the low lying island nation are evacuating to the main stadium, which is located on the highest point.

4:30pm- The Director of Nursing at Lata Hospital has told ONE News there are no casualties arriving yet, but they are expecting many. He says three villages have been destroyed and that the airport is completely swamped with water and debris.

4:15pm - A local journalist in Fiji has told ONE News that all coastal schools have been closed.

There are traffic jams in the Suva CBD as people try to flee. Civil servants on the island have been told to move to higher ground.



4:05pm -  Reuters reports a 90cm tsunami hit the Solomon Islands. The Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation cited a witness who said water was covering an airstrip in Lata, in Temotu province, but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties.

4:00pm - The Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management says the first wave may arrive in New Zealand in the areas around North Cape approximately between 6pm and 7pm.

They advise that people in coastal areas should:

1. Stay off beaches
2. Stay out of the water (sea, rivers and estuaries, including boating activities)
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 your local Civil Defence authorities.

3:50pm - ONE News has spoken to the Director of Nursing at Lata Hospital, Augustine Bilve who says some villages have been destroyed by the tsunami.

"According to the information I have there are three villages close to Lata, but it's more likely that other villages along the coast of Santa Cruz would also be affected."

He says hundreds of people live in the villages. "So far we don't have any casualty yet but it might be too early due to transport difficulties."

3:45pm - Keep up to date with Civil Defence information here.

3:35pm - ONE News has spoken to Charles Ngali who is in Lata Hospital in the Solomon Islands.

He says he felt a series of strong earthquakes. The hospital is on high ground but he has heard that a wave passed through the airport, which is on lower ground.

Most of the patients at Lata Hospital have been taken to higher ground.

3:30pm - AFP reports villages in Solomon Islands have been destroyed after a tsunami hits the island nation.

3:25pm - The South Pacific French territory of New Caledonia has warned that a tsunami could hit its eastern coastline.

Residents near the coast were being advised to evacuate immediately with the tsunami forecast to reach shores around 0300 GMT.

3:15pm - A tsunami measuring 0.9 metres (3ft) has hit the Solomon Islands following an 8.0 quake.

3:10pm - Civil Defence has issued a tsunami watch for New Zealand . The New Zealand High Commission in Honiara says it "is in the process of relocating its consular staff".

A 8.0 quake struck at a very shallow depth of 5km, 340km east of Kira Kira in the Solomons at 2:12pm.

A tsunami warning has been issued for the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, New Caledonia, Kosrae, Fiji, Kiribati, and Wallis and Futuna islands. 

The tsunami has the potential to be destructive near the epicentre and could pose a threat to more distant coastlines, says the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

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