Memories of 2004: Seychelles to Test Disaster Preparedness This September

A decade after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, countries in the area, including Seychelles, will be participating in the Indian Ocean Wave Exercise or IOWAVE14.

According to Seychelles News Agency, the exercise was decided recently during the ninth session of the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System, which was held in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The exercise is planned for next month, and “will involve a tsunamis alert, which will be given following a simulated earthquake firstly in Java, Indonesia. A second alert will be raised the second day, this time with a ‘simulated’ earthquake that will occur in the Makran Trench, south of Iran and Pakistan,” according to the article.

Regina Prosper, the information and communication officer in the Division for Risk and Disaster Management, spoke to Seychelles News Agency.

“All the agencies and partners will use this exercise in order to test their standard operating procedures which have been designed for response within and between organizations. A specific area or areas will be chosen for the exercise and we will use our alert systems and equipment and we hope that each partner will be able to coordinate their own evacuation plans using designated routes and assembly points or shelters,” said Prosper.

She also said Seychelles is expecting to play an important role in the event as it will mark the 10th anniversary of the first major tsunamis event experienced by the Indian Ocean archipelago.

And what a tsunami it was. According to Seychelles News Agency, some 230,000 people from about 14 countries were killed in that disaster. Seychelles lost three of its citizens then.

The Division for Risk and Disaster Management, which was created in response to the 2004 tsunami, is an independent entity under the Seychelles Ministry of Environment and Energy. Its four main functions are the phases of the Disaster Management Continuum – preparedness, prevention, response and recovery.

Prosper told Seychelles News Agency that the country has come a long way in taking disaster prevention and preparation measures.

“Most of our key partners such as Red Cross, Fire and Rescue services, etc. have a well-designed plan for such scenarios and their staff have received relevant training over the past 10 years,” she told Seychelles News Agency, noting that in spite of the country’s advances, there is still more that needs to be done to reach 100 percent emergency preparedness/management.

The division is working with the most vulnerable groups in the community, including schools. According to the article, drill exercises are conducted at the school level at least three times a year. Some schools located near coastal areas are also involved in national simulation exercises, such as IOWAVE14.

After IOWAVE14 in September, an evaluation exercise will be carried out both locally and internationally to assess the preparedness of Seychelles and other Indian Ocean countries if they are ever faced with a tsunami again.


For the original article, click here: