6 Feb 2013

Tsunami threat alert cancelled for NZ

10:02 pm on 6 February 2013

Civil Defence has stood down from monitoring a possible tsunami from a massive earthquake off Solomon Islands, meaning the national alert is now over.

However, the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management said there would still be a low risk of surges and currents along parts of the west coast between Taranaki and Milford Sound during the 48 hours from 9pm on Wednesday.

Ministry director John Hamilton said: "There is a possibility of there being surges and tidal changes, particularly in the very narrow and confined waterways such as around Charleston and perhaps Jackson Bay but it is low probability, and a very low probability of damage being caused by that."

Mr Hamilton said while a tsunami failed to happen on Wednesday people should not be complacent when other tsunami warnings happen in future.

Earlier in the evening, the ministry revised its tsunami potential marine and beach threat national advisory downwards to cover only the western coastline, before lifting it altogether.

The national advisory was issued after an 8.0-magnitude earthquake struck Solomon Islands at 2.12pm NZT on Wednesday and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii issued a tsunami watch for New Zealand.

Areas likely to be affected were Gisborne, Bay of Plenty, Auckland, Northland, Waikato, Taranaki, Manawatu-Wanganui, Kapiti, Marlborough, Nelson/Tasman, West Coast, Milford, Dunedin and the Chatham Islands.

The country's National Crisis Management Centre, known as The Bunker, was activated after the tsunami warning centre in Hawaii's watch alert.