Wednesday, 5 November 2008 11:11 AM

Tsunami Exercise Brings Panic

The Pacific Wave 08 Tsunami exercise held last week by the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) did not go as well as they had hoped.

A lot of Honiara residents, oblivious of what was going on, assumed that a tsunami was about to hit Honiara, causing many to panick.

Reports reaching Solomon Times said that some schools cancelled their classes and students were advised to run up the hills for safety.

"I saw children running up the hills...I didn't know what was going on but I knew there was something wrong so I also ran up the hills," said Brenda, a shopkeeper in Kukum.

Similar stories of panic and confusion was also reported throughout Honiara, and even in other parts of the Solomon Islands. In Yandina it was reported that a lot of coastal villagers had to be evacuated to higher grounds, all fearing the worst.

Director of NDMO, Loti Yates, said that such reactions was not necessarily a bad thing, since "it showed that people are listening to radio stations in Honiara," a crucial communication tool in times of disaster.

Mr. Yates said that the reaction by many, who had assumed there was a tsunami, was also good as this was how they should react in the event of an actual tsunami warning.

Mr. Yates said his office will evaluate all the feedback this week and then send them to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii.

He also thanked all the partners and the public for taking part in the exercise.

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