Yesterday’s Tsunami Drill at the Seafront was a success.
The drill was organized by the Ministry of Climate Change, in partnership with United Nations Women and the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA).
Over 100 participants gathered at the Port Vila Market House and waited for the tsunami siren to sound. At 12pm the siren sounded and the participants ran up to Independence Park which was the chosen safe zone for this exercise. This covered a distance of about 300 meters.
Most of the participants were women, mainly market vendors. A few of them managed to run uphill to Independence Park within three minutes.
When all participants arrived, scientific officer from the Vanuatu Meteorological and Geohazards Department (VMGD), Dan Tari, thanked everyone for taking part in the exercise. He says those who made it in three minutes showed great preparedness. He also says that even though Independence Park was the chosen safe zone for the drill, everyone should be aware of other safe zones closest to them so they can move there should a real tsunami occur.
Tari also encourages the participants to share the knowledge they gain in the exercise with other people who did not attend this drill. He says when a real tsunami occurs, everyone should remain at their safe zones until the Director of the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) assures everyone that it is safe to return home.
Tari also discourages from thinking of taking photos or video clips of a real tsunami should one occur. This was met with a lot of laughter from the participants, however he continued his discouragement and stressed that it is very risky.
The young scientific officer also encouraged everyone to respect the warnings from VMDG and NDMO as obedience to instructions can save lives.
He said the siren will only sound if a distant tsunami is detected. In such a situation the VMGD detect where the tsunami begins and calculates the time over the distance to land, they then sound the siren to let people evacuate in time. This will also allow them to send warning text messages to people.
Tari explained that if a really powerful earthquake occurs at the New Hebrides Trench, the siren may not sound as UNELCO power may be out and the Vodafone and Digicel networks may be down as well. Should this happen no one will receive any messages from the NDMO and VMGD. In an event as such he says one must all use the three signs of a tsunami which are when the earthquake occurs, when the tide usually comes in and goes out and the sound of an approaching tsunami.
Tari says even if the siren does not sound but warning messages are received, everyone should adhere to the instructions issued.
Tari acknowledged the participation of United Nations Women, NDMO and the ADRA volunteers who helped out in the drill, as well as the police and the municipal police for assisting with traffic control.