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Software fault source of false tsunami siren activation

Friday, 4 October 2013 8:44 a.m.

An investigation into the false activation of the Eastern Bay of Plenty’s tsunami siren network on Tuesday morning indicates that it appears to have been caused by a software fault.

Kordia New Zealand CEO, Scott Bartlett, says the company has investigated the false alarm and has taken the matter very seriously.

“We regret the inconvenience the false activation caused to the people in the Eastern Bay of Plenty on Tuesday,” he says. “We have identified an issue within the paging software that has caused the alarms to activate. Kordia engineers are currently working to upgrade the software for each of the alarms today.”

Eastern Bay of Plenty Emergency Management Coordinator, Jim Tetlow, says that the activation provided some important learning that could be used in the future.

“Tuesday morning has shown us how people react when the sirens activate without warning, and identified that there are some people who think the siren is a sign to evacuate, which it is not,” he says. “The continuous siren is a signal to tune in to 1XX and listen for instructions. This means we can verify what is happening and what action needs to be taken.”

Mr Tetlow also highlighted that residents in some areas may not be able to hear the sirens, and in some circumstances, the sirens might not be able to be activated in time.

“This is when people need to understand what the natural warning signs are. If there is a large earthquake that you cannot stand up in, or the shaking goes on for more than a minute, this is a natural warning sign of a potential tsunami. In these circumstances, residents should not wait for an official warning and should move immediately to higher ground or inland.”

Mr Tetlow wants residents in the Eastern Bay to look at the positives of the false alarm, rather than focusing on the negatives.

“The fact that the false alarm has got everybody talking about what to do can only be seen as a positive. As a result, people in risk areas have started to think about how they can better prepare for a tsunami.”

Information is available from www.bopcivildefence.govt.nz or from council offices on how to prepare yourself and your family for a tsunami and other major emergencies.

ENDS

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