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Indian Ocean nations to test tsunami warning system

A UN-backed simulation exercise involving 24 countries, including India, will take place next week to test a disaster warning system established after the strongest tsunami in living memory hit the Indian Ocean region in 2004.

PTI| Updated: Sep 05, 2014, 21:59 PM IST

Paris: A UN-backed simulation exercise involving 24 countries, including India, will take place next week to test a disaster warning system established after the strongest tsunami in living memory hit the Indian Ocean region in 2004.

The simulation exercise, involving 24 countries of the Indian Ocean Rim, will take place on September 9 and 10.

It has been organised under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the UNESCO to test the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (IOTWS).

Nearly 10 years after the strongest tsunami in living memory hit the region, the exercise will aim is to measure the capacity and response times of the various stakeholders involved to address such potentially destructive events.

The exercise, known as "IOWAVE14" will comprise two scenarios -- the first simulates an earthquake with a magnitude of 9.1 south of Java, Indonesia, on September 9 and the second simulates an earthquake with a magnitude of 9.0 in the Makran Trench south of Iran and Pakistan.

Both scenarios will simulate tsunami waves travelling across the Indian Ocean. The exercise will be conducted in real time.

The Indian Ocean Regional Tsunami Service Providers -- Australia, India and Indonesia -- will issue notification messages to National Tsunami Warning Centres alerting them to the simulated threats.

The test is designed to assess the effectiveness of communication flows between the stakeholders involved, country readiness and the efficiency of emergency procedures.

Several countries will also include public evacuation exercises of coastal populations. An evaluation will be conducted after the exercise to identify gaps and weaknesses so as to improve the system, a UNESCO statement said.

The Indian Ocean nations called for the establishment of the IOTWS in the wake of the 2004 catastrophe.

An Inter-governmental Coordination Group was established with the support of the Inter-governmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO to provide a governance mechanism for the new system, which became operational in 2011.

The countries part of the exercise are Australia, Bangladesh, Comoros, France (Reunion), India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Yemen.