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Indian Ocean-wide tsunami exercise to test readiness ten years after the 2004 disaster


Ten years after the strongest tsunami in living memory in 2004, 24 countries of the Indian Ocean Rim* will participate in a large scale simulation exercise organized under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO on 9 and 10 September to test the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System. The goal is to measure the capacity and response times of the various stakeholders involved to address such rare but potentially destructive events.

The exercise, known as “IOWAVE14”, will comprise two scenarios: the first simulates an earthquake with a magnitude of 9.1 south of Java, Indonesia, on 9 September (00:00 UTC); 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. The exercise will be conducted in real time. The Indian Ocean Regional Tsunami Service Providers (Australia, India and Indonesia) will issue notification messages to National Tsunami Warning Centres alerting them to the simulated threats.

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 System.

The Indian Ocean nations called for the establishment of an Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (IOTWS) in the wake of the 2004 catastrophe. An Intergovernmental Coordination Group was established with the support of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO to provide a governance mechanism for the new System, which became operational in 2011.

*To date: 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, Yemen.


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