Tuvalu News

Pacific Tsunami Warning Test Revealed Few Flaws

HONOLULU, Hawaii, May 18, 2006 (ENS) - To test how well countries and their people can be notified about possible tsunamis, Exercise Pacific Wave 2006 simulated two giant undersea earthquakes - one off the coast of the Chile, the other north of the Philippines.

Stuart Koyanagi, a geophysicist at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii, which coordinated the test, called the exercise "a communications test" for the center. He said scientists at the center were pleased with the results.

The first tsunami test was simulated to be generated by a magnitude 9.2 earthquake off the coast of central Chile at 30°S, 72°W on May 16 at 1900 UTC.

Suggested participants for this event simulation are: Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, Pitcairn, French Polynesia, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Niue, Tonga, American Samoa, New Zealand, Samoa, U.S.A., Canada, Wallis and Futuna, Tokelau, Fiji, Australia, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, and the Marshall Islands.

Bulletins were issued for six hours - 24 hours of compressed exercise time - until the tsunami was simulated to have crossed the entire Pacific.

The second tsunami test was simulated to be generated by a magnitude 8.8 earthquake north of the Philippines at 20°N, 120°E on May 17 at 0200 UTC. The test tsunami affected both the western Pacific and South China Sea.

Suggested participants for this event simulation are: Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Belau, Yap, Taiwan, Japan, Guam, Northern Marianas, Papua New Guinea, Chuuk, Pohnpei, Marshall Islands, Kosrae, Solomon Islands, Russia, Nauru, China, and Majuro.

Bulletins were issued for two hours - or eight hours of compressed exercise time - until the tsunami was simulated to have crossed into the central Pacific and across most of the South China Sea.

Glitches included one fax machine in Malaysia that did not function, and an overloaded telephone network in Thailand that prevented Thai officials from issuing a public alert by text messaging.

All other locations received the test message without problems.

The U.S. government is conducting a tsunami training exercise for U.S. and Canadian personnel next week.

The U.S. Department of Transportation in cooperation with federal, State, local, and Canadian partners will host PACIFIC PERIL 06 from May 23-25 at Camp Rilea on the northwest Oregon Coast.

The three-day event will consist of a training day presenting earthquake and tsunami hazards and response plans, a full day Command Post Exercise and a final table top review.

The exercise play simulates a catastrophic seismic event that triggers a massive tsunami that devastates Pacific coastal communities from British Columbia to northern California. The government of Canada, including the province of British Columbia and the city of Vancouver, are also engaged in the exercise.

Federal Aviation Administration Regional Administrator and Regional Emergency Transportation Coordinator Douglas Murphy says the exercise is designed to challenge participants with a high consequence scenario in order to better assess the effectiveness of existing response plans.

“Experts agree that the likelihood of a massive earthquake and tsunamis wave is very real, and speak in terms of not if, but when," said Murphy. "Our critical infrastructure is vulnerable, and advance preparation is the key to a successful response,”


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