Saturday, July 9, 2011

Indian Ocean Tsunami Drill

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Come October 12 and thousands of people living in tsunami-prone villages in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and 25 other countries in the Indian Ocean rim will be evacuated to safety. Tsunami sirens will be switched on in thousands of habitations, ships sailing in the Indian Ocean will be kept on high alert and governments of 28 nations will exchange scores of tsunami warning messages.
Of course, there will not be any tsunami in the Indian Ocean that day The evacuation of people is part of the "controlled drill" or mock exercise - Indian Ocean Tsunami Drill - to be taken up by the International Oceanographic Commission to find out if the nations in the Indian Ocean rim are really prepared when a tsunami actually hits the region.
In India the exercise will be kept secret and only officials of the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services in Hyderabad and the Union Ministry of Home Affairs in New Delhi, besides those of the National Disaster Management will be aware that it's going to be a "fake tsunami alert".
The local police and district authorities will jump into action to move people to safer places even as scores of email and fax messages are exchanged among the member countries of Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System. This is the first time that a tsunami mock drill will be conducted in the Indian Ocean, where earthquakes of larger magnitudes are likely to trigger tsunamis. About three dozen tsunami centres including tsunami sensors in the Indian Ocean will exchange the data to find out if they are prepared for any eventuality.
In the last mock drill conducted in 2009 in India, the "tsunami warning" was not taken to the level of people. It was between tsunami warning centres and officials. This time the common people, who will be affected in case of tsunami, will be involved in the exercise, of course keeping them in the dark that it's a mock drill. There will be physical shifting of people this time.
"On October 12 we are taking up the Indian Ocean Tsunami Drill. It is on this day all the tsunami centres in the member countries will become fully operational and exchange the data. The Hyderabad centre will
analyse the data received from these countries and it will in turn issue bulletins. Australia and Indonesia will join India to provide tsunami warnings for all countries in the Indian Ocean," said  Dr Tummala Srinivas Kumar, head of the tsunami warning centre in the city. 
He said the IOTWS is more advanced than the Pacific Ocean Tsunami Warning Centre. It will be put to test on October 12. The State-of-the- art warning centre for tsunami in Hyderabad now detects the location
of earthquake, assesses its capability in the generation of tsunami and informs the likely threat of tsunami in the shortest possible time, New service is being added to this as a Tsunami Warning Services for the
Indian Ocean rim countries.
India faces tsunami threat if an earthquakes hits any part of the Indian Ocean between Indonesia and the East Coast. On the West Coast, there's a threat if earthquakes hit the Karachi-Gujarat area.

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