“This meeting showed us that Indian Ocean nations have made considerable progress on developing national tsunami warning systems, but the most vulnerable States still face a major challenge in protecting their coastal populations,” said Patricio Bernal, Executive Secretary of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. Mr Bernal reminded that people must be ‘tsunami-savvy’, i.e. they must know what to do when a major earthquake strikes, and local authorities must have solid planning in place to get people away from the area as quickly as possible.” He acknowledged the explosion of activity in the countries of the region over the past 18 months to build their national response systems. “Thailand, for example, is now confident it can get tsunami information rapidly to people on the beach, and several others are getting close to this.” However, several nations with coastlines close to fault lines, such as Indonesia, Pakistan, Oman and Iran, remain vulnerable.
The regional system now includes 24 national Tsunami Information Centres, capable of receiving and distributing Tsunami Advisories around the clock. These centres receive tsunami bulletins from data and analysis centres in Tokyo and Hawaii. The Coordination Group’s next meeting will be held in Kenya early in 2007.
© Photo: UNESCO/ Torben Brandt