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Fiji Time: 12:48 PM on Friday 25 April

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DISMAC chief hails public response

Tevita Vuibau
Thursday, February 07, 2013

THE National Disaster Management Centre commended members of the public for their response to the tsunami warning issued to the country after an 8.0 magnitude earthquake struck the Solomon Islands.

DISMAC director Manasa Tagicakibau said the centre noticed an almost immediate response from people in the Central Business District once the tsunami warning was announced.

"The public response was commendable. As soon as we issued the tsunami warnings, we noticed that people started moving to evacuation areas," Mr Tagicakibau said.

"Given the time we forecasted for the first wave to hit and gauging the public response, I must again say that it was commendable."

He said government ministries with their tsunami evacuation plans were quick to respond to the warnings with schools in coastal areas also implementing their respective tsunami drills.

However, Mr Tagicakibau conceded there were issues with evacuation procedures that still needed to be dealt with.

One of these, he said, was traffic congestion.

"We will look to work closely with police in our national debrief regarding this issue as we noticed that there was a lot of traffic congestion and this was hindering peoples's ability to get to safe zones," Mr Tagicakibau said.

He stated that government was making efforts to mark safe zones and danger zones for tsunamis and this would help alleviate the problem. "In future, roads leading to these safe zones will become one way, allowing traffic easier access.

"What we saw today (yesterday) was that as people were trying to get to safe zones, there was also traffic going in the opposite direction and this caused some of the congestion," Mr Tagicakibau said.

The tsunami warning was issued for the country yesterday after the massive earthquake struck Santa Cruz in the Solomon Islands.

The first wave was forecast to reach Fiji at 4.05pm yesterday.

However, the warning was later cancelled by the Department of Mineral Resources after the wave failed to eventuate.