Seychelles to join 28 countries for Indian ocean-wide tsunami drill set for 14th october 2009

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Flag of the Seychelles
Flag of the Seychelles

Seychelles will join over 28 other countries around the Indian Ocean Rim as a participant in a mock tsunami scenario during 14 October 2009. The purpose of this Indian Ocean-wide exercise is to increase preparedness, test warning systems, evaluate response capabilities in each country and improve coordination throughout the region.

The December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami brought to the attention of the world the urgent need to be more prepared for such events, even more so, the two recent earthquakes in Indonesia and Samoa emphasises the need for preparedness. This important exercise will test the current procedures of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System and help identify operational strengths and weaknesses in each country. The exercise, titled Exercise Indian Ocean Wave 2009 (IOWAVE09), will simulate Indian Ocean countries being put into a Tsunami Warning situation requiring government decision-making.

It is the first such exercise of its kind in the Indian Ocean and builds on prior national tsunami warning drill carried out earlier.

The exercise can be divided into two stages. In the first stage, a destructive tsunami crossing the Indian Ocean from an earthquake source near Aceh-Sumatra will be simulated by international notifications from the Interim Advisory Service providers, Japan Meteorology Agency (JMA) and Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC). Bulletins will be transmitted by JMA and PTWC to designated Tsunami Warning Focal Points in each country who are responsible for national tsunami response.

In the second stage, conducted simultaneously in response to receipt of the international messages and any national tsunami detection, analysis, and forecasting capabilities, government officials will simulate decision-making and alerting procedures down to the last step before public notification. Due care will be taken to ensure the public is not inadvertently alarmed.

In Seychelles, the National Meteorological Services will receive the bulletins from the International Agencies. After carrying out an evaluation for potential threat to our islands, appropriate dummy messages will be transmitted to relevant local agencies, namely the Department of Risk and Disaster management (DRDM). The agencies will then test their alerting procedures until just before public notification.

Should any actual tsunami threat occur during the time period of the exercise on 14 October 2009, the drill will be terminated immediately and the real event will take precedence.

Following the exercise, a review and evaluation will be conducted by all participating countries. This exercise is an essential element in the routine maintenance of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System.

Our goal is to ensure the timely and effective early warning of tsunamis, to educate communities at risk about safety preparedness, and to improve our overall coordination. We will evaluate what works well, where improvements are needed, make necessary changes, and continue to practice.

The exercise is the Work Plan of the Intergovernmental Coordination Group of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (ICG/IOTWS). ICG/IOTWS is a body of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.

Source: Republic of Seychelles / National Meteorological Services of the Department of Environment / Department of Risk and Disaster Management

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