Home Natural Hazard Management ‘India’s tsunami warning centre working well’

‘India’s tsunami warning centre working well’

Hyderabad, India: After the December 26, 2004 tsunami, the Government of India invested heavily in putting together state-of-the-art infrastructure, information technology and resources to set up the Tsunami Early Warning Centre at the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) in Hyderabad. And, this centre is working well, according to Indian Express report. To examine the status of the centre, Indian Express team visited the centre on March 17. The report provides a glimpse of activities what happened on that day.

At the Tsunami Early Warning Centre, at 01:43 p.m. IST, a shrill alarm went off, a giant screen came to life and an earthquake striked—measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale in the Pacific islands of Vanuatu. T Srinivasa Kumar, the man in charge of the National Tsunami Early Warning Centre, quickly scanned the data that appeared on the giant screen in front of him. Kumar decided that the Vanuatu tremor won’t trigger a tsunami but the reports were to be sent out—to the Ministry of Earth Sciences and to information stations located in 28 nations in the Indian Ocean. The messages went out in all forms—faxes, emails, and text messages.

Any quake that’s above 6.5 on the Richter scale could trigger a tsunami and when that happens, Kumar gets anything between a few seconds to a few minutes to react, depending on the location of the quake. “In the case of the March 11 earthquake on the East Coast of Honshu, Japan, we were able to generate a tsunami report within seven minutes of the event. Our model showed that there was no threat of a tsunami in the Indian Ocean but it would hit the Japanese coast within minutes,” Srinivasa said, showing a simulated map of the quake and tsunami that hit Japan.

“Our system of collecting information, our simulated models for predicting tsunamis and our information dissemination process make this the world’s best tsunami Early Warning Centre. While alerts issued by other such centres are 30 per cent accurate, we are 70 per cent accurate,” he says.

INCOIS Director Dr Satheesh C Shenoi said the efficiency of the early warning system was proven when an under-sea earthquake of 8.4 magnitude occurred on September 12, 2007, in the Indian Ocean. “We are now graduating into a Regional Tsunami Watch Provider in the Indian Ocean,” added Shenoi.

Taking early warning to the next step, INCOIS has mapped the coastal area of Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu which was one of the worst affected during the 2004 tsunami. “We have created a map of inundation that may occur in case of a tsunami. We now have the complete data of the houses and buildings in the area, how many people may be present in each house at any given time during the day or night, which are the multi-storeyed houses that may be safe during an inundation etc. In case of a tsunami warning, we can give accurate information to the coastal commanders or the district collectors on the areas that have to be evacuated first. It will save a lot of lives,” he continued. Efforts are underway to map vulnerable areas all along the Indian Coast.

Source: Indian Express