Mega Mock Tsunami Exercise In India’s Eastern Coast
The Ministry of Home Affairs through National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and the
Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) would be conducted a multi-State
mega mock exercise on tsunami preparedness on 24 November 2017.
This is not the first time a tsunami exercise has taken place, as India has conducted similar exercises in the past. The previous exercise was conducted last year itself, in September.
- The exercise was simultaneously conducted in 35 coastal districts across four States — West Bengal, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu and Puducherry (UT) along entire East Coast to assess and improve the early warning and response mechanism to mitigate the impact of a high-intensity tsunami
- It aimed to assess and help improve preparedness, response mechanism and coordination among concerned agencies
- The NDMA experts, who led the exercises from the State Capitals, briefed the participants about the proceedings of the day
- The exercise scenario depicted a high intensity earthquake near the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, at about 09:30 hrs. Within moments, the Indian Tsunami Early Warning Centre (ITEWC), INCOIS, issued a massive tsunami threat notification for the eastern coast through e-mails, fax and SMSes. It also put out detailed bulletins on its website
- A two-hour reaction time was notified within which the entire state machinery needed to be mobilized so as to efficiently respond to the situation such that the impact of the tsunami is reduced
- In less than half an hour, the State Emergency Operation Centres (SEOCs) were activated. Besides mobilizing the state machinery to respond, public warnings were sent out to the communities
- Officials from all important departments such as Indian Army, Navy, Air Force, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), police, health, education, firefighting, Civil Defense, electricity, transport, public relations, etc. participated in the exercise
- The exercise helped participants to get familiarize with their responsibilities; actions required and also helped them to evaluate their Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for tsunami warnings
- Participants from 11 Pacific Island countries also observed exercise to take away key lessons and best practices for responding to disaster situation
- About thirteen years ago, a magnitude 9.1 earthquake struck beneath the Indian Ocean near Indonesia, generating a massive tsunami that claimed more than 230,000 lives in fourteen different countries, one of the deadliest natural disasters ever recorded
- Today, many of the communities have recovered, though painful memories and some ruined structures remain in place
- Tsunami waves triggered by earthquakes crashed into villages along a wide stretch of Sri Lankan coast, killing more than 35,300 people and displacing millions
Workings of the exercise
A two-hour reaction time has been planned in this scenario during which the entire State machinery will be mobilised in a defined manner to respond swiftly and efficiently.
Evacuation drills will also be rehearsed at selected sites. This exercise aims to assess and help improve the preparedness, response mechanism and coordination among concerned agencies.
What is a tsunami?
- The name Tsunami, from the Japanese words tsu meaning harbour and nami meaning wave, is now used internationally to describe a series of waves travelling across the ocean. These waves have extremely long wavelengths, up to hundreds of kilometres between wave crests in the deep ocean.
- In the past, tsunamis have been referred to as ‘tidal waves’ or ‘seismic sea waves’. The term ‘tidal wave’ is misleading. Even though a tsunami’s impact upon a coastline is dependent on the tidal level at the time a tsunami strikes, tsunamis are unrelated to the tides.
How is a tsunami formed?
A tsunami can be formed in a number of different ways, but usually there are three things that have to happen.
- An earthquake must measure at least 7.0 on the Richter scale, the sea bed must be lifted or lowered by the earthquake, and the epicentre of the earthquake must be close to the Earth’s surface.
- Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, underwater explosions, landslides, meteorite impacts and other disturbances above or below water can potentially generate a tsunami.
- While normal waves are caused by the winds as well as the Moon and the Sun, a tsunami is always caused by the displacement of a large body of water.
- Tsunamis are sometimes called tidal waves, although this term is not popular among experts as they are not actually influenced by the tides at all.
What are the warning signs of a tsunami?
The number one warning sign of a tsunami in Australia is the advice you may receive from the media (on radio or television) or from police and other emergency services. Follow their instructions immediately.
The following are natural signs of a tsunami that you may, but not always, experience when you are near the coast in Australia or overseas. If you notice any of these three warning signs take action.
- A shaking of the ground in coastal regions may reflect the occurence of a large undersea earthquake nearby that may generate a tsunami.
- As a tsunami approaches shorelines, the sea may, but not always, withdraw from the beach (like a very low and fast tide) before returning as a fast-moving tsunami.
- A roaring sound may precede the arrival of a tsunami.