4 Oct 2010

Capital ill-prepared for major quake, report finds

10:31 pm on 4 October 2010

An audit of the Wellington region's emergency response centres has found that most of them may not be able to function after a major earthquake.

Scientists say a massive earthquake in the capital would kill more than 600 people and cost $18 billion of damage.

The audit, carried out by the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management last year, found seven of the region's 10 operations centres are ill-equipped for an earthquake on the scale of the one that struck Canterbury last month.

Both the main coordination centre in the regional council building in Wakefield St in Wellington and the back-up office in Masterton would probably be out of action, it says.

Spurred to action, says Wilde

Wellington Regional Council chairperson Fran Wilde says the report has helped the council to focus and spurred it to action.

She says plans for the future configuration of emergency management should be in place by the beginning of next year.

Upper Hutt mayor Wayne Guppy, who chairs the region's emergency management group, says councils are much better prepared than five years ago but, as the Canterbury earthquake shows, things can always be done better.

He says the group will meet after the local body elections to decide on the next step.

Group controller Rian van Schalkwyk says the existing system is adequate to deal with 99.9% of emergencies, except for huge quakes.

Mr van Schalkwyk says there are already several back-up options in place but they will look at having more.