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Caribe Wave Simulation Exercise 2023 to take place in Basseterre, aimed at testing Tsunami response mechanisms

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St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The Caribe Wave Simulation Exercise scheduled for Thursday, March 23, 2023, seeks to “validate and advance tsunami preparedness efforts in the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions.”

Countries are expected to conduct a simulation exercise using one of the following scenarios; a tsunami generated by a magnitude 7.6 earthquake located on the Gulf of Honduras or a tsunami caused by a flank collapse of the Mount Pelée volcano.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii will send an alert to the Tsunami Warning Focal Point, which is a 24-hour operating agency. In St. Kitts and Nevis, the Police Telecommunications Department serves as the focal point. The alert message will state the possibility of a Tsunami threat, listing the countries included in the exercise. It will also give the estimated time of the first wave.

In St.Kitts, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) will spearhead the Tsunami Exercise in collaboration with the Royal St.Christopher and Nevis Police Force, St. Kitts-Nevis Defence Force and the St.Kitts and Nevis Fire & Rescue Services. The simulation area is the city of Basseterre from Sandown Road to the Cenotaph, which extends inland to as far as Central Street.

The Traffic Department will be present to control the traffic flow near the simulation exercise.

Several businesses and institutions have registered to participate in the exercise, whilst bystanders are encouraged to participate. Businesses will test their Emergency and Evacuation Plans, whether they know how to use them or pinpoint any weaknesses within their plans. Businesses that still need a plan may reach out to NEMA for assistance. The general population is encouraged to embrace the practice exercise to prevent difficulties in the event of a Tsunami.

The communications between the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, the Tsunami Warning Focal Points, the National Tsunami Warning Centers and the media will also be tested.

According to NEMA, “Partial evacuations will be done at the Newtown Playing Field, Independence Square, and Greenlands Park. Alerts will be broadcast through radio stations by interrupting their regular programming, by SMS messages, and through emergency response agencies.”

Meanwhile, in several radio programmes, a Caribe Wave official, Superintendent of Police Mr. Lyndon David, said that a regional or distant Tsunami would give individuals on St.Kitts and Nevis time to run to higher grounds but warned that a local Tsunami could happen suddenly, especially if the epicentre is in the water. David said individuals should not take the sign of water rolling back as amazing but instead take it as a sign that disaster is on its way and that it is time to run.

According to Scientists, a Tsunami travels very fast, up to 600 miles per hour and would take everything possible that is in its path.

In addition, Fire Sub Station Officer Mr. Timothy Martin said, in the unlikely event of a Tsunami, the safe zone for the Basseterre area is the F.T Williams Highway, heading North into St. Peters; any area below it is designated as a hazardous zone. He added that the best chance of safety is heading to higher grounds by foot instead of by vehicle, as traffic jams can limit one’s time of getting to safety. Another critical matter raised was the idea of adults panicking to get their children. Martin said schools often partake in simulation exercises, so the children will know what to do and where to go if there is a disaster.

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