UNESCO has decided to extend its tsunami protection program to all risk areas in the world by 2030, including the Mediterranean, where a tsunami is likely within 30 years. “The probability of a one-metre, therefore catastrophic, wave in the next thirty years is very high”
with AFP, Le Monde
The “Tsunami ready” program, piloted in dozens of communities in the Caribbean, Pacific and Indian Ocean regions, will be extended to thousands more, the UN Educational Organization has announced. , science and culture (Unesco) on Tuesday, in a press conference.
This program establishes twelve indicators to be respected by the communities concerned, with the help of UNESCO experts. This includes drawing up a plan for identifying the threat and raising awareness and preparing the populations to deal with it.
The majority of tsunamis recorded to date affect coastal populations in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. But Unesco recalls that all maritime regions are at risk, including that of the Mediterranean.
Very high probability of a tsunami in the Mediterranean
“The probability of a one-meter wave, therefore catastrophic, in the next thirty years is very high there,” said Vladimir Ryabinin, executive secretary of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO.
According to Bernardo Aliaga, ocean expert at the UNESCO office, the Greek islands of Kos and Samos are prepared for this eventuality. The city of Alexandria, Egypt, has already started implementing the program. The cities of Istanbul and Cannes are working on it.
“The general principle is that where there was a tsunami, there will be a tsunami,” he added. According to Le Monde, “experts are particularly attentive to the situation around the Stromboli volcano, in the Aeolian Islands, which has the particularity of being very active and close to the coasts of Sicily and southern Italy”.
Preparing coastal populations to react
According to Mr. Ryabinin, about 70% of tsunamis are caused by an earthquake. This was particularly the case of the one that occurred in the Indian Ocean in 2004, responsible for more than 210,000 deaths. But they can also occur following volcanic eruptions, such as the one that hit the Pacific island of Tonga last January.
“More than 40 communities in 21 countries are already safer after implementing our Tsunami Ready program,” Ryabinin said. Before adding that Unesco wants to “ensure that 100% of the coastal populations at risk are ready to react” in the face of a tsunami.
The UNESCO program benefits from the support of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and the European Union, as well as donor countries such as Australia, Japan, Norway and the United States.
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