Page last updated at 14:32 GMT, Saturday, 6 March 2010

Australia to review tsunami warnings

Surf rescue personnel on Sydney's Bondi Beach 28.2.10
Beachgoers were reluctant to leave the water despite advice from lifeguards

Tsunami warnings in Australia are to be reviewed after thousands of beachgoers shrugged off alerts following Chile's huge earthquake.

Lifeguards struggled to clear beaches in Queensland and New South Wales as people either returned to the water or came down to watch the tsunami arrive.

Attorney-General Robert McClelland said police and emergency services may be used in future.

Pacific states went on alert after the quake but most areas were unaffected.

The waves that hit Australia's east coast were hardly noticeable.

Mr McClelland described the response to the tsunami warning as "disappointing but understandable".

"People saw the earthquake, of course, literally thousands of kilometres away and didn't appreciate the dangers," he said.

Amateur video shows tsunami sweeping through Chilean town of Penco

"Emergency responders provide public warnings. They [people] should abide by them because they are not lightly given, they are not given at a drop of a hat."

He said he had asked state emergency ministers and surf life-saving organisations in New South Wales and Queensland to review the reaction and look at ways of educating the public about tsunamis.

In Chile, the official death toll from the 8.8 magnitude quake has been reduced to 452 from 800, but hundreds of people are still missing.

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