Coming December will mark 15 years since the Indian Ocean Tsunami which wiped entire towns and killed more than 230,000 people in 14 countries.
On December 26 in 2004, an earthquake under the Indian Ocean caused a massive tsunami to strike southern Asia. With tens of thousands more injured, and having caused the displacement of over two million people in the region from their homes, this tsunami is considered the most devastating ever recorded – while the earthquake which caused it was the third-largest since measurements began.
World Tsunami Awareness Day
The effects of the disaster continue to be felt as we write this on World Tsunami Awareness Day today. While local economies are beginning to win the struggle to recover, the environmental damage, and no less the emotional impact on those who survived, remains harder to quantify.
Following the disastrous tsunami in the Indian Ocean on December 26th 2004, the Ministry of Earth Sciences initiated action towards setting up of the Tsunami Warning System at INCOIS, Hyderabad. As a part of this warning system ICMAM-PD was entrusted with the task of modeling and mapping of vulnerability of coastal areas to tsunami hazard for the entire Indian Coastline.
In a major development in India’s capability to assess dangers following a tsunami event, the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) has now developed a system which will be able to predict risk to coastal areas, height of waves that can hit them and even pinpoint vulnerable buildings, all in ‘realtime’.
This will make India the first nation in the world to do so, said INCOIS, an institute under the Indian government’s Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES). The model is being run on experimental mode and will be operationalised in the near future, according to a report by Mongabay.
Tsunamigenic zones that threaten the Indian Coast have been identified, and they are the fault region off Sumatra, North Andaman, Car Nicobar in the Bay of Bengal and the Makran fault in the Arabian sea. The government has identified a list of regions on the country’s eastern coast that are highly vulnerable to a tsunami. These include Puri, Kakinada, Machilipatnam, Nizampatnam-Vatapalem, Chennai, Cuddalore-Puducherry, Rameshwaram, Thoothukudi, Alappuzha-Chavara and Kochi.
Meanwhile, besides the new modelling system, INCOIS has been regularly organising mock drills and tests to check the preparedness of the entire chain of administration and find lacunae. One such mock drill was conducted last year in five coastal states on the eastern coast where mass evacuations were conducted in several areas.