28 May 2010

Vanuatu quake raises preparedness issues

2:32 pm on 28 May 2010

The Vanuatu Meteorological Service says this morning's earthquake shows improvements need to be made to its tsunami warning systems.

The Pacific Tsunami Center issued a tsunami warning after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck off the north-west of Vanuatu.

The Meteorological Service says it then issued an internal warning but both warnings were cancelled shortly after that.

The service's acting director, Salesa Kaniaha, says the earthquake's proximity to Sanma and Torba provinces meant there wouldn't have been time to warn them if there had been a tsunami.

But he says it's concerning the quake did not prompt people to move to higher ground.

The director says some of its systems were also not operational as the quake occurred outside working hours.

"We disseminate our warnings through emails but then again everyone is sleeping at that time, through the radio, but the radio again was not on during that time. SMS is one of the best ways to get information out but again the timing did not accommodate for that system to be activated."

Salesa Kaniaha says they do not have sirens either, and any improvements are dependent on funding.