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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Disaster officials in PNG's New Britain waiting for damage reports following earthquake

CD Disaster officials in PNG's New Britain waiting for damage reports following earthquake

"Disaster officials in Papua new Guinea's New Britain say they are waiting to hear reports of any damage from

Tuesday morning's strong earthquake.

The provincial Disaster office says the 6.8 quake was tectonic and not volcano-related, despite a recent volcanic eruption on the island.

The office's director Colonel Peter Baki says the epicenter of the 6.8 quake was in the exact middle of the island, a very remote area.

He says the province is in a "seismic crisis" with magna intrusion that is just 15 kilometres below the surface in the North of the island."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Governments Still Dither on Bird Flu, Study Finds

CD Governments Still Dither on Bird Flu, Study Finds

"A third of countries trying to plan for a possible bird flu pandemic have not made any decision on who would be first in line for scarce vaccinations and antiviral drugs, U.S. and Israeli researchers said on Tuesday.

And not a single country has guidelines on how to distribute limited numbers of ventilators and face masks in case of such a global epidemic, the survey of 45 national plans showed.

The H5N1 avian influenza virus still mostly infects birds, but it continues to infect the occasional person -- 256 in total -- and has killed 151 people in nine countries.

The World Health Organization considers H5N1 the most likely cause of the next flu pandemic, but stresses that there is no predicting what a flu virus will do. The world has been on alert since 2003, when the virus re-emerged in China and Korea.

"I don't think it is necessarily the case that countries have forgotten about bird flu," said Lori Uscher-Pines of the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, who helped conduct the study.

But she said it is difficult to set priorities when a pandemic is so unpredictable. To start a pandemic, H5N1 or any other flu virus would have to first acquire the ability to pass easily from person to person and it is not clear what other changes would occur along with that.

"One of the problems that is inherent in priority-setting now is there a lot of uncertainty about what the strain is going to look like and how infectious it is going to be," Uscher-Pines said in a telephone interview.

The teams at Johns Hopkins and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel reviewed 45 national pandemic influenza plans from developed and developing countries.

Writing in the online journal Public Library of Science-Medicine, they said the plans would apply to 3.8 billion people, or two-thirds of the world population.

Of the plans, 28 listed individual population groups to receive vaccines in a pandemic and 22 prioritized groups that would get antiviral medications."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Goff: Defence Priorities 2007

CD & SAR Goff: Defence Priorities 2007

Phil Goff' speech to the Defence Industry Association of New Zealand highlights some details of the new NH90 Helos that will be available for CD, Land and Marine SAR. Also updates to the P-3 Orion fleet will enhance Marine SAR capabilities.

Also mentioned is a project to upgrade Defence communications capabilities, including the possible use of a satellite.

Quake off Papua New Guinea, no tsunami

CD Quake off Papua New Guinea, no tsunami

"Singapore: A strong earthquake was recorded off Papua New Guinea at 9.25am local time (12.25pm NZT), the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said today.

There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties after the magnitude 6.5 earthquake, whose epicentre was under the sea 577km northeast of Port Moresby.

The USGS described the quake as "strong" on its website but said no tsunami warning had been issued.

"No destructive Pacific-wide Tsunami threat exists based on historical earthquake and tsunami data," it said.

The area of the quake is in the Pacific 'Ring of Fire', a seismically active area with frequent earthquakes and volcanos."

Search scaled up for missing teacher

LSAR Search scaled up for missing teacher

"Fears are mounting for the wellbeing of a 50-year-old teacher, missing from his Southland home since early yesterday.

Russell John Bell, a caucasian of medium build, was possibly wearing pyjamas, a bush shirt and gumboots when he left his home in a semi-rural area on the outskirts of Invercargill at 5am."

"A search was conducted yesterday using next of kin and police staff, today we've got a full search and rescue operation under way with upwards of 30 personnel and also there's been an aerial search of the immediate area."

North Shore City gets phone technology to warn of tsunami

CD North Shore City gets phone technology to warn of tsunami

"North Shore Civil Defence is introducing a phone system to warn people in low-lying areas if a tsunami is on its way.

The system would electronically phone almost 15,000 houses in less than an hour.

North Shore Civil Defence coordinator David Keay says the community has been asking for more effective warning systems since the December 26 tsunami in 2004.

He says they are now working with the North Shore City Council to implement the telephone service.

In the event of a tsunami, the council's call centre will electronically phone 3,600 numbers every 10 minutes and play a 20-second recorded message. The system will come into effect next year."

Also See:

Rescued trampers unprepared

LSAR Rescued trampers unprepared

Two tourists prayed as they struggled across a swollen river near Arthurs Pass in a bid to prevent their tramping group from spending a night in the cold.

The six trampers, from the United States, Canada and South Africa, are staying at Christian youth camp Youth With a Mission, in Oxford."

Monday, October 16, 2006

Auckland could manage crisis in Wellington

CD Auckland could manage crisis in Wellington

"Auckland City Council says a web-based crisis management system that it plans to have up and running by the end of the month could be used to coordinate the response to an earthquake in Wellington, or any other national emergency.

The offer comes two weeks after the Civil Defence Ministry in Wellington conceded it had made no progress shopping for its own dedicated software system to handle emergencies since cancelling a tender for a National Crisis Management System in 2004.

Auckland's emergency planning manager Jane Lodge hopes the US software system, which is supported in New Zealand and Australia by Wellington firm Critchlow Associates, will be adopted by other regional bodies.

"As far as any national adoption is concerned, we have talked to the ministry about that, and certainly we would be open to some arrangement along those lines," she says"

Hundreds evacuated from hotels on Hawaii's Big Island after quake

CD Hundreds evacuated from hotels on Hawaii's Big Island after quake

"Hundreds of hotel guests and hospital patients had to be evacuated after a strong earthquake hit Hawaii early today.

The governor Linda Lingle issued a disaster declaration for the state, saying there had been damage to buildings and roads.

There were no reports of fatalities, but the state Civil Defence says there have been some minor injuries.

The quake, which measured six point six hit 16 kilometres from Kailua Kona, on the west coast of Hawaii Island, which is also known as the Big Island.

It is estimated that as many as 3,000 people were evacuated from three hotels on the Big Island."

Also See:

Civil defence short of staffing target

CD Civil defence short of staffing target

"It is seven months since a restructuring of the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management and the ministry still has multiple vacancies.

In March it was announced the number of staff would be increased from 28 to just under 50 by the end of the year.

Two positions were also done away with at a cost of $145,000.

With just two and a half months to go until the end of year deadline, the Ministry only has 30 and a half full time equivalent staff, which well short of the set target."

Indonesian Woman Dies Of Bird Flu

CD Indonesian Woman Dies Of Bird Flu

"A 67-year-old Indonesian woman died of bird flu after being treated at a hospital for more than a week, marking the country's 54th death from the virus, an official at the health ministry said.

"The virus in her was highly pathogenic, very vicious. She is the 54th casualty out of 71 cases," said Runizar Ruesin, the head of the health ministry's bird flu information centre.

The woman from the West Java city of Bandung died on Sunday night, the official said."