Kochi

Early warning system a big relief

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One morning, in March 2012, the District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) received a tsunami alert passed on to it by the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA).

The tsunami alert issued by the National Tsunami Early Warning Centre from the Hyderabad-based Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) had warned of giant waves hitting the shores that evening sparked by an underwater earthquake.

With little time left to convene an official meeting to take stock of the situation, the DDMA chaired by the District Collector swung into action straight away and initiated the standard operating procedures (SOPs). People along the coasts in Kanayannur, Kochi and Paravur taluks were evacuated soon.

Fortunately, there was no tsunami and INCOIS lifted the alert that night.

However, there was no such warning system a decade back and the tsunami wreaked havoc on life and property. It claimed 26 lives in the district.

As the country observes the tenth anniversary of tsunami devastation, officials with the DDMA find relief in the fact that despite its many shortcomings there is at least an early warning system enabling them to evacuate people from vulnerable areas.

DDMA, a product of the Disaster Management Act that came into force a year after the tsunami, is chaired by the District Collector. The District Panchayat President is its co-chairman and the Additional District Magistrate is its head.

Once a tsunami alert is issued, it is passed on to the State Emergency Operations Centre, which in turn alerts the DDMAs.

DDMA then alerts the various departments related to coastal affairs, including the coastal police besides directing tehsildars to activate the public announcement system to effect smooth evacuation from the coastal areas.

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Printable version | Nov 22, 2019 8:15:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/early-warning-system-a-big-relief/article6724554.ece

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