Puducherry on Wednesday, along with Daman & Diu, Maharashtra and Kerala, conducted a mock tsunami drill simulating the effects of a tsunami caused by an earthquake in the Indian Ocean. The drill was conducted in Pillaichavady, a village that saw large-scale destruction during the 2004 tsunami, with police officers, various government officials, students and fishermen participating in the event.

“The mock tsunami drill has been conducted to check the preparedness of officials of various departments along with the communication systems and to simulate the evacuation and rescue mission that will take place in case of an actual tsunami,” according to commandant of the India Reserve Battalion, Puducherry, A. Anto Alphonse.

In this case, the Tsunami Warning centre issued a warning of an earthquake off the coast of Indonesia, which caused a tsunami. This warning was received by the Senior Superintendent of Police (Law and Order) V. J. Chandiran along with the emergency centres in the town, according to Sub Collector A. Muthamma.

The earthquake warning arrived at 7.10 am followed by a warning of a potential tsunami in the Indian Ocean, she said.

Once the warning was received, police officers were mobilised, including the two special teams that are dedicated to the coastal areas. The police officers, in turn, alerted the other emergency services like the fire station, public works department, health department, transport department and others, Mr. Alphonse said.

“The police are trained to react to the tsunami warning and various patrols will be able to reach the spot within 10 minutes of the warning to commence the evacuation mission,” he said.

The evacuation procedure starts with small children and youth and people who are able to walk on their own. Once these people have left the area, the rescue services like the fire station and ambulance begin to remove elderly people and those who have been injured.

Transport authorities then despatch vehicles according to the size of the approach road to take the evacuees to the tsunami relief camp, which had been set up at the Pillaichavady Government Middle School for the mock drill. Since the approach road was narrow in most places in Puducherry, the transport department arranged for medium-sized vehicles, he said.

The Department of Health and Family Welfare also set up a Tsunami Medical Relief camp near the beach in order to administer first aid for the injured victims. Fire services and other departments also practiced bandaging and other techniques that would be useful in the emergency.

The Public Works Department despatched backhoe loaders, lorries and personnel to help collect the debris caused by the tsunami. During the mock drill, debris was strewn around before the machines were employed to clear the area.

“We have time between the potential tsunami warning and a warning that alerts authorities of the tsunami's approach to evacuate the area. After the second warning everyone, including the rescue officials, must leave the area,” Mr. Alphonse said.