BOGOTA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Forty countries lying along the Pacific Ocean from Asia to the Americas are putting their tsunami early warning systems and escape drills to the test this week, with the key message for some coastal communities being “run and seek higher ground”.
Loudspeakers, sirens and signs marking evacuation routes are being used in tsunami simulation exercises in countries including Colombia, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, to ensure warnings reach at-risk coastal communities and get them to safety.
The United Nations-backed initiative aims to test communication systems used in earthquake and tsunami warnings and improve how countries prepare and respond to disasters.
Nearly 75 per cent of deadly tsunamis occur in the Pacific Ocean and connected seas, according to the UN, causing thousands of deaths and high economic losses.
National emergency response centres and agencies in 40 countries can choose one of six simulation exercises involving earthquakes off the shores of Japan, Tonga, the Philippines, Chile, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador.
Countries participating in the five-day drill that wraps up on Friday span from Thailand, China and Australia, to the Pacific Islands, the United States and south through to Chile.