- 05 September, 2018: Mauritius participated on 4 September 2018 in a mock tsunami exercise in the Indian Ocean. The National Emergency Operations Command (NEOC) triggered level 3 warning at around 11 00 hrs.
Simulated tsunami waves were generated by an earthquake of magnitude 9.0 on the Richter scale on the Makran Trench off the southern coast of Iran which were expected to spread through the whole of the Indian Ocean. As at 12 30 hrs, some 2 170 persons had already been evacuated around Mauritius for the purpose of the mock exercise.
All relevant stakeholders comprising members of the Operation cell and the Planning cell were gathered at the headquarters of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Centre (NDRRMC) in Port Louis. The Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity, and Environment and Sustainable Development, Mr Etienne Sinatambou, and the Officer in Charge of the NDRRMC, Mr Servansingh, were also present.
In a statement to the press, Minister Sinatambou highlighted that Mauritius along with 25 countries around the Indian Ocean were participating in the Indian Ocean Wave 2018 exercise while recalling that Mauritius was at its third participation in such exercise since 2014.The purpose of this exercise, he pointed out, is to increase tsunami preparedness, evaluate response capabilities in each country and improve coordination throughout the region. It also tests the Standard Operating Procedures and communication links at all levels of the warning chain, he said.
The Minister observed that in the course of the exercise, three Tsunami Service Providers from Australia, India and Indonesia provided simulated tsunami threat information to all National Tsunami Warning Centres in the Indian Ocean region. The Mauritius Meteorological Services, which is the National Tsunami Warning Centre for the country, evaluated the information and formulated test national tsunami warnings, which were disseminated to the NEOC/ NDRRMC, the Police Information and Operations Room and the public.
According to the scenario, waves of 1.09 metres height were expected to crash on Agalega at 15 42 hrs, waves of 1.6 metres would reach Rodrigues at 17 06 hrs, and Mauritius would be hit by 1.42 metres high waves at 17 22 hrs.
For his part, the Officer in Charge of the NDRRMC, Mr Servansingh underscored that the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and subsequent events in the Indian and Pacific Oceans brought to the world’s attention the urgent need to be more prepared for such events. He underlined that the Indian Ocean Wave exercise is an effective tool for evaluating the readiness of the end-to-end Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigations System and for identifying changes that can improve its effectiveness.
According to him, this important exercise not only tests the current procedures of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System, but also helps to identify operational strengths and weaknesses in Mauritius. He also stated that an Inundation Map for Mauritius prepared by the Mauritius Oceanography Institute was expected to give an indication as to the areas and regions affected by the tsunami.
In the course of the IOWave18 exercise, partial evacuation was carried out by local authorities at Baie du Tombeau public beach, Grand Baie public beach, Bois des Amourettes, Providence (south) as well as in Rodrigues, Agalega and St Brandon. All beaches were closed and sanitisation was carried out on islets, he added. He concluded by saying that after the mock exercise, a debriefing session with all stakeholders would be held whereby improvements and changes to be made will be discussed.
Exercise IOWave18 simulated Indian Ocean countries being put in a tsunami warning situation and require the National Tsunami Warning Centre and the National and/or Local Disaster Management Offices in each country to implement their Standard Operating Procedures. Exercise IOWave18 comprised two scenarios on successive days: one in the north western Indian Ocean off the coast of Iran, and the other in the eastern Indian Ocean off the west coast of northern Sumatra.
The first scenario commenced on 4 September and simulated a magnitude 9.0 earthquake off the coast of Iran. The second scenario will be held on 5 September and will simulate a magnitude 9.3 earthquake off the west coast of Northern Sumatra. Both scenarios would generate simulated tsunami waves travelling across the Indian Ocean basin.
This exercise is carried out in the second week of September every two years. Previous Indian Ocean exercises were conducted in 2009 (IOWave09), 2011 (IOWave11), 2014 (IOWave14) and 2016 (IOWave16), including local tsunami warning exercises carried in Mauritius.
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