New Zealand cancels tsunami alert

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Auckland, Mar. 1 (ANI): New Zealand's National Crisis Management Centre (NCMC) on Monday took a decision to cancel its tsunami alert from 9 a.m.

"Sea level data indicate the peak of activity has passed. There will be ongoing sea level fluctuations and tidal effects for the rest of the day throughout the country," the New Zealand Herald quoted the NCMC, as saying in its latest advisory.

"People are advised to continue to take caution in coastal areas," it however, added.

The tsunami alert was issued in the wake of the 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile that claimed at least 700 lives and left more than two million others in various levels of distress.

The earthquake is the fifth biggest recorded and spawned the tsunami that sped across the Pacific yesterday.

Despite warnings in almost 50 countries, and the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people, the tsunami threat came to little.

In New Zealand, people ignored official warnings and raced to beaches to watch the tsunami surge towards land.

"What people need to understand is if they go and watch for a tsunami, it might be the last thing they ever do," said one New Zealand minister.

One Auckland beachgoer said it was a case of crying wolf. "There's been so many warnings you think, 'Ah, it's just another one'."

An hour after Saturday night's earthquake, about 8.30pm, Civil Defence said there was no risk of a tsunami coming to New Zealand. But later, at 11.20pm, the organization issued a warning to stay away from beaches.

Director of Civil Defence John Hamilton said people were being naive.

"It's not an uncommon attitude - 'we'll be right' and 'I've done it before, I can do it again'. Our challenge is to make people aware of the risks," he said.

"We are dealing with Mother Nature - and human nature - and both are unpredictable," he added. (ANI)

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