Caribbean Tsunami test hopes to save lives

It was planned long before the earthquake-turned-tsunami event in Japan to test the readiness of 33 Caribbean countries in the region’s first full-scale tsunami warning exercise. On Wednesday, March 23, a fictitious earthquake of 7.6 magnitude occurred off the coast of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Bulletins were issued by the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Island and by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Ewa Beach, Hawaii for the rest of the area and the test was underway.

The Caribbean tsunami test, named Caribe Wave 11 did not involve communities but aimed to test the effectiveness of alert, monitoring and warning systems among all the emergency management organizations throughout the region. The test was designed to determine whether Caribbean countries are ready to respond in the event of a dangerous tsunami. Results will be reported in April.

“The earthquake and tsunami that have devastated Japan have shown how essential alert systems are,” said Irina Bokova, UNESCO’s director general.

The countries that attended the tsunami alert exercise are: Aruba, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, France (Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Martin, Guyane), Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Netherlands (Bonaire, Saba, Sint Eustatius, Curacao and Sint Marteen), Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom (Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos), and the United States.

Over the past 500 years, there have been 75 tsunamis in the Caribbean, which is about 10 percent of the world total during that period, according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Tsunamis caused by earthquakes, landslides or volcanoes have caused 3,5000 deaths in the region since the mid-1800s

Flickr photo by Axion23

Tokyo flights canceled, diverted after tsunami

In the wake of a giant tsunami wave that battered the east coast of Japan, sending a 10-metre high tidal wave crashing on to coastal areas, airlines have canceled and diverted flights.

The 8.9-magnitude quake, Japan’s worst and the 7th strongest ever recorded has caused massive damage to coastal areas by triggering a tsunami wave that now careens across the pacific heading for the U.S. west coast.

Tokyo flights canceled include Nippon, Virgin, British Airways, Lufthansa, Air France and Malaysia Airlines have have all canceled flights to and from both of Tokyo’s airports.

Japan’s All Nippon Airways Co. told the Wall Street Journal that “131 domestic and international flights were canceled, grounding 32,700 passengers. Including flights which changed destinations, the earthquake affected 162 flights and 37,800 passengers”

“We have received notification from the airport authorities to suspend our flights in and out of Narita Airport and Haneda Airport,” Malaysia Airlines Director of Operations, Captain Azharuddin Osman said in a statement. “We will only be able to confirm our flight schedules once we receive clearance from the relevant civil aviation authorities.

AOLnews reports the Red Cross in Geneva saying the wave was higher than some Pacific islands, and a tsunami warning has been issued for the whole of the Pacific Basin, including Hawaii, the Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan and Russia. Authorities in Hawaii ordered the evacuation of coastal areas.

Flickrphoto by Bejnamin Thompson

Japan hit by massive earthquake- U.S. west coast prepares for tsunami wave

A massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake off Japan’s northeastern coast has at least 19 countries under tsunami alert. The U.S. west coast from Alaska to California is preparing for waves of three to four feet high representing a tremendous amount of energy expected by about 7:00 AM Pacific time.

Here, we see raw footage of the 32-foot tsunami wave that hit Japan’s Sendai airport

Caused by the earthquake that hit at 2:46 PM local time in Japan, the tsunami wave is estimated to hit Hawaii just about any time now.

In the Philippines, Guam and Northern Mariana Islands, evacuation of communities along the eastern coastal areas is underway with the populations being advised to get at least 50 meters above sea level.

USS Essex, USS Blueridge, USS Tortuga have been deployed and are on their way to Japan to help in anticipated relief efforts. U.S. Navy ships in Guam are being told to head out to sea for safety reasons

“Hawaii ordered evacuations from coastal areas due to the threat of a tidal wave set off by Friday’s earthquake in Japan as a tsunami warning was extended to the whole of the Pacific basin, except mainland United States and Canada.” reports Reuters.

Early reports from Japan’s Kyodo news indicate at least 10 people killed and many injured but that number is expected to rise. After a 7.7-magnitude earthquake and 10-foot tsunami hit Indonesia last October hundreds were reported dead later in the week. Early Tsunami warning systems put in place between 2004 and 2008 are hoped to have help minimize casualties.

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