The “ Tsunami Ready ” program, piloted in dozens of communities in the Caribbean, Pacific, and the Indian Ocean regions, will be extended to thousands more, the United Nations Organization announced on Tuesday. Education, Science, and Culture (Unesco), in a press conference.
The program establishes twelve indicators to be respected by the communities concerned, with the help of UNESCO experts. This includes drawing up a plan for identifying the threat and raising awareness and preparing the population to deal with it.
All maritime regions at risk
The majority of tsunamis recorded to date affect coastal populations in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. But Unesco recalls that all maritime regions are at risk, including that the Mediterranean. “ The probability of a one-meter wave, therefore catastrophic, in the next thirty years is very high there,” said Vladimir Ryabinin, executive secretary of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO.
About 70% of tsunamis are caused by an earthquake, according to Vladimir Ryabinin, such as the one that occurred in the Indian Ocean in 2004, responsible for more than 210,000 deaths. But they can also occur following volcanic eruptions, like the one that hit the island of Tonga, in the Pacific, last January. “ More than 40 communities in 21 countries are already safer after implementing our Tsunami Ready program,” said Vladimir Ryabinin. Before adding that Unesco wanted to ” ensure that 100% of the coastal populations at risk are ready to react ” in the face of a tsunami.
In the Mediterranean, the Greek islands of Kos and Samos are ready, according to Bernardo Aliaga, the ocean expert at the UNESCO office. Alexandria, Egypt, has started implementing the program, and Istanbul and Cannes are working on it, he said. ” The general principle is that where there was a tsunami, there will be a tsunami,” said Bernardo Aliaga. Like in the Aegean Sea, or like the one that occurred in 1908 in the Strait of Messina, which ravaged the coastal cities. Experts are particularly attentive to the situation around the Stromboli volcano, in the Aeolian Islands, which has the particularity of being very active and close to the coasts of Sicily and southern Italy.
The UNESCO program benefits from the support of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and the European Union, as well as donor countries such as Australia, Japan, Norway, and the United States.