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Project for strengthening Haitian capacities for tsunami early warning and preparedness funded by ECHO

A new agreement has been signed between the European Commission’s General Directorate for Humanitarian Aid & Civil Protection (ECHO) and UNESCO for 500,000 EUR to strengthen tsunami early warning capabilities in the Caribbean Region. The 15-month project “Strengthening Haitian capacities for tsunami early warning and preparedness” will offer continuity to ongoing efforts established by the Haitian Government and IOC/UNESCO after the 12 January Earthquake in 2010.

The objectives of the project are to continue to build awareness, knowledge, and response capacity on/for tsunami risks at institutional level. In addition, the new funding will allow to initiate tsunami preparedness initiatives at community level, including public awareness campaigns.



The ICG/IOTWS met in Melbourne, Australia, 3-6 May 2011

melbourne-group-photoThe 8th Session of the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (ICG/IOTWS-VIII) was held at the Bureau of Meteorology, Melbourne, Australia, 3–6 May 2011 under the Chairmanship of Prof Dr Jan Sopaheluwakan. The Session was attended by 59 delegates and observers from 12 Member States in the Indian Ocean region, 3 Observer States and 9 UN agencies, NGOs and other organizations. The ICG reviewed the progress made by the IOTWS since the last Session, considered the reports and recommendations from its Steering Group, Working Groups and Task Teams, and decided on actions to be implemented in the next intersessional period.



Member countries of SOPAC conduct tsunami warning and mitigation systems project

fiji tsunami wshopThe National Capacity Assessment of SOPAC Member Countries: Tsunami Warning and Mitigation Systems project worked in collaboration with the member countries of SOPAC to assess their capacity to receive, communicate and respond effectively to tsunami warnings. The implementation of the project was led by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, in partnership with SOPAC and other key Australian and international tsunami and Disaster Risk Management partners. The project was funded by AusAID. The fourteen SOPAC member countries who participated in the project were the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.


The ICG/CARIBE EWS-VI met in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (26-29 April, 2011)


The ICG/CARIBE EWS-VI (26-29 April, 2011) was attended by 70 participants from 18 Caribbean countries and 3 observer organizations (PNUD, CDEMA and WMO). Main topics discussed during the meeting were the estaicgviblishment of a Caribbean Tsunami Warning Center (CTWC) in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean Tsunami Information Center (CTIC) in Barbados as well as the lessons learnt and report of the CARIBE WAVE 11 exercise.
The group highlighted the broad participation at the CARIBE WAVE 11 Exercise with 35 participating countries and territories. In addition, 28 local and private institutions submitted reports and at 188 schools and 130 private entities (hotels, ports operators, media outlets) participated. In general terms, there was a generalized satisfaction with the event because most objectives were met. The exercise was useful to identify gaps in the system.  The ICG decided to hold new exercise in March 2013.With respect to the CTWC United States recalled that a phased approach has been adopted for the establishment of such a center. The ICG noted progress on this phased approach by US and decided to accept the proposal of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and Nicaragua to develop Terms of Reference for a back up center to be established as US plans progress ahead.

A field trip was organized to Matancita, a village that was destroyed by the 1946 and that is implementing tsunami response plans at community level, Delegates were able to interview and exchange views with survivors of the 1946 tsunami.

The 11 March 2011 Earthquake off the Pacific Coast of Tohoku, Japan

With the devastating M9.0 earthquake off the Pacific coast of Tohoku once again the world was reminded of the deadly force of the ocean. So far the figures for confirmed casualties and missing people are 15,429 deaths and 7,781 missing. The scenes transmitted around the world have shocked us all, and the IOC sends it condolences to the people of Japan and pledges to continue its efforts to coordinate the implementation and improvement of tsunami warning systems globally.

traveltimes_japanThe earthquake struck at 0546Z on 11 March with its epicenter some 130km east of the coast of Miyagi prefecture. The magnitude of the earthquake is estimated by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) as M9.0, making it the 4th largest recorded earthquake since 1900. There were hundreds of aftershocks since the main earthquake, many greater than magnitude 6. The first tsunami wave arrived at the coastline nearest to the epicenter within about 15 minutes of the earthquake and in the hours that followed more waves arrived, in one place 30m but often above 10m. Whole communities were washed away and much infrastructure was destroyed.


The tsunami propagated east into the Pacific Ocean and the first regional tsunami bulletins were issued by the North West Pacific Tsunami Advisory Centre (NWPTAC) operated by JMA and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC) at 0555Z. Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunami (DART) buoys close to Japan were triggered and a wave of 1.08m amplitude (mean level to peak) was recorded at DART21418 at 0619Z, confirming that a large tsunami had been generated and was propagating eastward.


UNESCO holds training workshop on the development of standard operating procedures for tsunami warning in Haiti


sophaiti3A training workshop on the compilation of standard operating procedures for tsunami warning and emergency operations was held on 10 and 11 March 2011 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The workshop was attended by more than 80 participants, including representatives of institutions that constitute the tsunami warning chain, namely the Maritime and Navigation Service of Haiti (SEMANAH), the Bureau of Mines and Energy (BME), the Directorate of Civil Protection (DPC) and the National Meteorological Centre (CNM).
Mr Bechir Lamine, UNESCO’s representative in Port-au-Prince, underlined UNESCO’s role as an intersectoral platform between education, culture, science and communication for tsunami hazard mitigation. The Minister of the Interior, Mr Paul Antoine Bien-Aimé, stressed the importance of including tsunamis in the list of disasters likely to strike Haiti, in addition to earthquakes, floods and hurricanes. 
“The largest cities in Haiti are on the coast. Besides, Haiti is situated between two subduction zones – one to the north and the other to the south – which could trigger tsunamis,” Mr Bechir Lamine explained. “As tsunamis rarely occur, they are often left out of hazard mitigation programmes. They can, however, seriously affect coastal areas, and prevention must be included in a comprehensive hazard mitigation programme.”


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