New Zealand: We have only just begun to understand tsunami risk

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By Anne French

When the magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck the country a fortnight ago, it brought with it a high risk of tsunami on the eastern coasts of both islands.

In New Brighton, it was two hours before the tsunami sirens were activated. In Napier, the tsunami sirens weren't used at all because, as the chief executive of the Napier City Council put it, "that would have caused mass panic and evacuation". Elsewhere there was a lot of confusion.

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Experiencing a big earthquake or a tsunami equips the survivors with knowledge and skills that will help them survive a later event, but the Japanese know that such visceral memories can't be passed on to the next generation.

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