Not-So-Instant Tsumani Text Warning

Emergency services in New Zealand are cancelling the free text service run by text marketing company OPTN, after complaints that tsunami text warnings arrived three hours late.

About 400 people received a tsunami text alert last week that said, “Estimated wave East Cape and Mt Maunganui 1m-0922. Stay tuned to local media for more information.”

The message came at 11:56 a.m., about three hours after Civil Defense had issued a tsunami warning after the 8.3 magnitude quake off Samoa. The warning to New Zealanders was later downgraded to a threat advisory.

Further post-tsunami analysis in the area has brought to light other problems with warning systems, including mixed messages from Civil Defence on Television NZ’s Breakfast show, and a special phone hotline in the newsroom, specifically for civil defence emergencies, that did not ring.

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