Indian Ocean countries to test tsunami warning and evacuation procedures in ocean-wide tsunami exercise
Twenty-four countries bordering the Indian Ocean will engage in Exercise Indian Ocean Wave 2018 (IOWave18), a large-scale tsunami exercise based on two scenarios that will be enacted on the 4th and 5th September respectively.
The scenario to be tested on 4 September will simulate a magnitude 9.0 earthquake off the southern coast of Islamic Republic of Iran. The 5 September scenario will simulate a magnitude 9.3 earthquake off the western coast of Northern Sumatra.
The exercises will give Indian Ocean countries an opportunity to test standard operating procedures, communication links between stake holders, communities’ tsunami preparedness and evacuation procedures.
During the last ocean-wide exercise in 2016, over 60,000 people took part in community evacuations. For IOWave18, several Indian Ocean countries including Comoros, India, Indonesia, Iran, Oman, Seychelles, South Africa and Sri Lanka plan to evacuate select coastal areas with the scheduled participation of some 80,000 people.
Coastal communities planning evacuation exercises include: a school in Comoros; several coastal provinces in India; five localities in Indonesia; Chabahar, along the Makran coast in Iran; Al-Sawadi, an isolated fishing village near Muscat, Oman; Ile Perseverance, Seychelles; and selected villages in 14 coastal districts in Sri Lanka.
Indian Ocean nations called for the establishment of an Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System in the wake of the 2004 tsunami disaster. The new System became operational in 2011 with the support of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), which continues to coordinate the system’s governance mechanism.
UNESCO promotes scientific exchange and collaborative efforts in order to establish effective early warning systems for different hazards such as landslides, volcanoes, earthquakes, floods, droughts and tsunamis. UNESCO’s IOC assists countries improve standard tsunami operating procedures through stakeholder workshops, development and evaluation of ocean wide exercises, as well as overall scientific coordination across regions.