1 Mar 2010

Better prepared this time - Pacific officials

10:02 am on 1 March 2010

Disaster management officials in the Pacific say they were better prepared for Sunday's tsunami alert after last year's devastating tsunami off Samoa, which claimed more than 180 lives.

The Meteorology Department in Samoa says they had only 12 minutes to warn people last year and many did not take the alert seriously.

Chief executive Mulipola Ausetalia Titimaea says this time people started fleeing to the hills as soon as they heard the warnings about a tsunami after a magnitude 8.8 earthquake in Chile.

The alert was issued throughout the island via radio, television, text messages and bells and sirens.

Disaster officials in Fiji, Tonga and the Cook Islands also say their response was better.

People on the island of Tuvalu sought refuge in the few double-storeyed buildings there.

The death toll for the Samoa tsunami last year was 186: 143 in Samoa, 34 in American Samoa and nine in Tonga.