ShakeOut gets Coasters ready for quake
By GILES BROWN - The Press
Last updated 05:00 19/09/2009

More than 8000 people have taken part in what is believed to be New Zealand's largest earthquake drill.

At 10.10am yesterday, schoolchildren, businesses and families across the West Coast took part in the ShakeOut exercise, based on a theoretical 8.2 magnitude earthquake in the Alpine Fault near Whataroa.

At Westland High School in Hokitika, 400 pupils got under their desks.

The director of the GNS Science joint centre for disaster research in Lower Hutt, David Johnston, who observed the exercise, said knowing what to do in a quake would save lives.

"It's essential. Schools have fire drills, but earthquake drills are less common," he said. "In my opinion, it should be mandatory once a year."

The exercise coincided with earthquake drills by councils across the region.

The ShakeOut director, Westland High deputy principal Chris Manuel, said he believed it was the largest exercise of its kind in the country. It was important for people to know what to do during a quake, and how to prepare for the aftermath, he said.

"The key message is start preparing now. Get your three days of supplies ready before it happens. When it happens, it will be a lot more difficult," Manuel said.

Westland High pupil Paul Price, 15, said: "It would be completely different in a real earthquake. I don't know whether it would have been so smooth."

From here.