New Zealanders offered message tsunami warnings

Updated: 2006-08-24 09:52
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WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Residents of northern New Zealand can subscribe to a mobile phone text message service that will warn them of an impending tsunami or other natural disasters, a newspaper reported Thursday.

For a 50 New Zealand cents (32 US cents; 25 euro cents) registration fee, people living in Tauranga on the east coast of North Island can receive civil defense text warnings on their phones, Barry Low of the Tauranga Western Bay Emergency Management Office told the Bay of Plenty Times.

The messages may range from notification of a state of emergency being declared to warnings of severe weather, a tsunami or earthquakes.

"The message will let people know exactly what they need to know," Low was quoted as saying.

Low was not immediately available to comment on the report Thursday.

National civil emergency procedures have been reviewed since a tsunami alert issued May 4 for parts of North Island's east coast was not quickly passed on to residents. Later media reports of the alert caused thousands to flee their homes for higher ground.

The alert, which followed a magnitude 7.9 earthquake more than 2,160 kilometers (1,340 miles) from New Zealand, was lifted within two hours after a wave of less than 60 centimeters (two feet) was recorded.