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East Cape earthquake and tsunami: 2 September 2016 Post Event Report (MCDEM response)

The East Cape earthquake and tsunami: 2 September 2016 Post Event Report (MCDEM response) outlines the Ministry’s response to the East Cape earthquake and tsunami on 2 September 2016.

Following any significant emergency, the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management (MCDEM) reflects on how well things went while also looking for opportunities to make things better – there is no better time to identify improvements than immediately after an emergency. Our report has concluded that for the response on 2 September 2016, correct procedures were followed and the advice we issued was accurate.

Note: The corrective actions outlined in the report has since been superseded or amalgamated into new workstreams following the Kaikoura Earthquake and Tsunami of 14 November. 

Self-evacuation after a local source earthquake

The East Cape earthquake on 2 September 2016 was a local source event – that is, an earthquake that occurs within circa 500km of New Zealand.

In a local source event there is very little time to issue official warnings, and warnings may not reach the areas nearest to the earthquake before the first tsunami waves arrive. People must therefore not wait for official warnings but instead know the natural warning signs of tsunami and take appropriate action.

If you are at the coast and experience any of the following:

  • Feel a strong earthquake that makes it hard to stand up, or a weak rolling earthquake that lasts a minute or more,
  • See a sudden rise or fall in sea level,
  • Hear loud and unusual noises from the sea,

Move immediately to the nearest high ground, or as far inland as you can.

Learn what to do before, during and after a tsunami.

 

How notifications are issued

When an offshore earthquake occurs which has the potential to generate a tsunami, MCDEM has a 24-7 arrangement with Geonet to source scientific advice to inform notifications to the public. 

Tsunami notifications are informed by scientific advice from the Tsunami Experts Panel - a group of tsunami science experts convened by Geonet. However, some tsunami notifications are issued immediately for offshore earthquakes that meet or exceed certain thresholds.  Scientific advice from the panel then informs ongoing advice or updates to the public. As noted above, MCDEM advises people to take immediate action following a local source earthquake.