18.01.2010 -

Tsunami Warning System Proves Effective

© Valparaiso, Chile/ShoaThe Chilean oceanographic buoy, 280 miles off the coast of Iquique (Northern part of Chile). Tsunami warning system (depth : 4967 meters).

“The fact that there were no human casualties in the tsunami in the Solomons Islands on January 3rd shows that the continuing efforts of UNESCO and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) are bearing fruit”, commented Director-General Irina Bokova on the effective implementation of the Pacific Tsunami Warning System on this occasion.

UNESCO and the IOC help at-risk countries to raise public awareness of the threat of tsunamis, ensure preparedness and provide early warning. In this case, the Pacific Tsunami Warning System coordinated by UNESCO/IOC issued warning information via the responsible centre in Hawaii, USA, 16 minutes after the first earthquake. The tsunami wave arrived 48 minutes after the tremor.

The earthquake, with a magnitude of 7.2, led to a tsunami with waves of 2.5 metres in some areas. There were no casualties, as people reacted adequately by immediately moving to higher ground. The landslides and tsunami waves left more than 1,000 people homeless and destroyed houses and shore facilities.

UNESCO/IOC has been coordinating post-tsunami field assessments with the government of the Solomons Islands and the international research community to evaluate the physical extent and height of the tsunami wave and the impact on infrastructure.

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