21 Jun 2013

Evacuation policy urged after fatal slip

1:15 pm on 21 June 2013

A coroner has asked the Whakatane District Council what it is doing with a report's findings that a landslide death could have been avoided had there been an earlier evacuation.

An inquest was held in Whakatane on Thursday into the death of Hugh Biddle, who was 17 when a landslide caused by torrential rain smashed into the bedroom of his Ohope home on 18 June 2011.

Coroner Wallace Bain heard evidence from retired scientist Dick Beetham, who compiled a report for GNS Science about the accident.

It concluded that the tragedy could have been avoided had there been a call earlier in the day to evacuate vulnerable houses.

The council's general manager of strategy and planning, David Bewley, told the inquest the evacuation findings from the report need further discussion.

Mr Bewley said the council is more than happy to try to find a way to alert people.

Hugh Biddle's family say the council needs to develop an evacuation policy for such contingencies.