Ten years after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, 24 countries in the region will participate in an exercise organized by the United Nations to test their readiness to address such rare but potentially destructive events.
The large-scale simulation exercise – known as “IOWAVE14” – is planned for 9 and 10 September, and is organized under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The exercise is intended to test the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System, which was set up in the wake of the catastrophe that struck the area on 26 December 2004.
On that day, an earthquake off the coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra sent waves as high as 30 metres crashing into 14 countries, claiming nearly 230,000 lives and leaving around 2 million people homeless.
Next week’s exercise will comprise two scenarios: the first simulates an earthquake with a magnitude of 9.1 south of Java, Indonesia; the second simulates an earthquake with a magnitude of 9.0 in the Makran Trench south of Iran and Pakistan.
Both scenarios will simulate tsunami waves travelling across the Indian Ocean and be conducted in real time.
“The goal is to measure the capacity and response times of the various stakeholders involved to address such rare but potentially destructive events,” stated a press release from UNESCO.
The agency added that the test is designed to assess the effectiveness of communication flows between the stakeholders involved, country readiness and the efficiency of emergency procedures.
Several countries will also include public evacuation exercises of coastal populations. An evaluation will be conducted after the exercise to identify gaps and weaknesses so as to improve the Warning and Mitigation System.
The following Indian Ocean Rim countries are participating in the test: Australia, Bangladesh, Comoros, France (Réunion), India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Yemen.