Photo: Tsunami warning sign
UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, or IOC, conducted an exercise Wednesday to test the tsunami alert system covering 31 Caribbean basin countries, officials said.
The exercise was scripted around a tsunami occurring at 1000 GMT some 430 kilometers (267 miles) west of the coast of Gibraltar, simulating the earthquake and tidal wave that happened on Nov. 1, 1755, in that area.
The 1755 temblor affected the coasts of Portugal, Spain, North Africa and the Caribbean islands, unleashing waves that battered Lisbon about 20 minutes after the quake hit and reached Antigua more than nine hours later, UNESCO said in a statement.
The U.S. government’s Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, or PTWC, and National Tsunami Warning Center, or NTWC, sent mock alerts to participating countries during the simulation.
“The goal is to test the Tsunami and other Coastal Hazards Warning System for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions, which was established in 2005 by the countries of the region in collaboration with IOC-UNESCO, ensuring that the national focal points responsible for the dissemination of the alert receive timely warning,” the IOC said in a statement.
The Caribbean has been hit by 75 tsunamis in the past five centuries, accounting for nearly 10 percent of the tidal waves registered in the world during that period.
“Previous experience underlines the crucial importance of rapid transmission of information to minimize the damage caused by tsunamis,” the IOC said.