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Action taken after warning ignored

The tsunami warning alert was largely ignored by the public.
The tsunami warning alert was largely ignored by the public. Bruce Thomas

FEDERAL Attorney-General Robert McClelland says police and emergency services may be used to clear people off the beaches during future tsunami warnings, after last weekend’s warning was largely ignored by the public.

Mr McClelland has ordered a review of the public response to tsunami warnings after lifesavers struggled to clear beaches on the NSW and Queensland coast following the earthquake that struck Chile on February 27.

On Saturday, Mr McClelland introduced a tsunami information program in conjunction with Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) to educate the public of the very real dangers of tsunamis.

It was “disappointing but understandable” that so many people travelled to beaches to view the waves last Sunday, Mr McClelland told reporters.

“People saw the earthquake literally thousands of kilometres away and didn’t appreciate the dangers,” he said.

“All this material will inform the public just how inappropriate that is.”

The tsunami awareness program includes an interactive online resource to assist lifesavers deal with the general public in the event of a tsunami warning.

And in future police and emergency services may be used to evacuate beaches, Mr McClelland said.

“They should abide by them because they are not lightly given, they’re not given at a drop of a hat,” he said.

Mr McClelland has asked the NSW and Queensland Emergency Ministers and surf life saving organisations to review the public response to tsunami warnings.



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