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Civil Defence quizzed over earthquake

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 3 days ago
A photo of the quake damage near Waiau, North Canterbury, shared on Twitter by Environmental & Engineering Consultants Tonkin+Taylor. © Twitter/@TonkinTaylor A photo of the quake damage near Waiau, North Canterbury, shared on Twitter by Environmental & Engineering Consultants Tonkin+Taylor.

A Parliamentary select committee has quizzed Civil Defence director Sarah Stuart-Black over management of the Kaikoura earthquake response.

The 7.8 magnitude quake dominated the government administration committee's briefing on Tuesday with committee chairwoman Ruth Dyson requesting a formal written response on several issues, including why pre-prepared televised media statements couldn't be captioned.

"The response I got was that it's not possible to do live captioning - I did go back and suggest that somebody watch Parliament question time," she said.

"If we can have that live captioned we can have a pre-prepared media statement captioned and it beggars belief that in 2016 we don't," she said.

During the briefing Ms Stuart-Black revealed investigations were underway to expedite the rollout of the early warning system, but at this stage it's expected to be 18 months away and may not necessarily result in earlier warnings.

She said the challenge after the November 14 quake was that based on the initial information from GNS Science the earthquake did not meet the threshold for issuing warnings.

It was a grey area that required consultation with GNS, so it wasn't until the magnitude was upgraded and it was discovered a fault ruptured under the ocean that the threshold was met and a warning was issued, she said.

"At the moment we're going to be exploring with GNS how do we speed that up," she said.

Ms Stuart-Black also praised the location of the National Crisis Management Centre and said while there were no windows and walls couldn't be knocked down to make space it's still "absolutely" the right place to be.

"I think other countries look at us with some level of jealousy around the fact that in an emergency with a National Crisis Management Centre we are one of the few places where officials are in the same building as politicians which means the speed and efficiency of which decisions are made, information's provided is actually provided," she said.

A full review of Civil Defence's response is expected to be completed once the public safety and wellbeing aspects of the response are completed.

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