Thousands take cover in earthquake drill

By Amy McGillivray, Genevieve Helliwell

Almost 38,000 people in the Western Bay scrambled for cover this morning as part of a national earthquake drill.

The New Zealand Shakeout earthquake drill was held throughout the country at 9.26am.

There were 30,563 people registered in Tauranga City and 7,928 people registered throughout the rest of the Western Bay.

About 44,000 people registered to take part in the drill yesterday, bringing the total number of participants to more than 1.3 million nationwide.

Many radio stations used the civil defence sting to signal the start of the drill and the exercise was broadcast on TVNZ live from Mt Eden Normal Primary School.<inline type="photogallery" id="14825" align="outside" embed="no" />

In the Western Bay, there were 47 Western Bay Schools registered to take part including Papamoa Primary School.

Acting principal Jen Whitehead said all the students were prepared and shown a video before the drill.

With all the earthquakes happening all over the country it was important to prepare for the worst, she said.

"Any practise is good practise,'' she said.

"I think it's a great effort to get everybody in the country involved.''

Businesses around the Western Bay also got involved.

Kiss IT office manager Andrea Crawford was looking forward to the drill.

"I'll yell, we'll do it and hopefully New Zealand will get a world record.''

The drill was a good reminder of what to do, she said.

"When we were kids we used to do all that sort of thing. It's very easy to forget,'' she said.

"It's also a bit of a remembrance for the people of Christchurch who didn't get out of their buildings.''

The Bay of Plenty is one of the most seismically active areas of New Zealand.

Earthquake activity is greatest in the central part of the region, within the area encompassed by the Taupo Volcanic Zone (Taupo Fault Belt) and the North Island Shear Belt, according to the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management.

New Zealand is located across the boundary of two tectonic plates and is susceptible to earthquakes 10,000-15,000 earthquakes are recorded each year in and around New Zealand but only about 150 of these are felt, the ministry said.

Shakeout director John Hamilton said he was delighted with the response so far but is encouraging people to make it more than a one-off drill.

"Many of the things people do to prepare for an earthquake are also important for other emergencies,'' Mr Hamilton said.

He would also like people to send in videos and photos showing what they did for the drill.

The images will be loaded on to the Shakeout website

*Send us your photos and videos. Email

- Bay of Plenty Times

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