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18 July, 2024
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UNESCO recognizes Larnaca as Cyprus' first 'Tsunami Ready' city

Larnaca enhances coastal safety with tsunami evacuation plans


Larnaca is set to become the first coastal city in Cyprus to implement an early warning system and tsunami evacuation plan, aiming for recognition as "Tsunami Ready."

In a statement, the municipality announced, "The city has been selected for participation in the CoastWAVE program, coordinated and funded by IOC-UNESCO (UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission), with local coordination by the Geological Survey Department."

The "Tsunami Ready" designation signifies a community's preparedness through awareness strategies, relevant infrastructure, action plans, and readiness efforts to minimize loss of life.

Cyprus joins this initiative along with communities from Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, Spain, Malta, Israel, Egypt, and Morocco. To date, only Cannes and Alexandria in the Mediterranean-North Atlantic region have been identified as "Tsunami Ready."

UNESCO announced that the Geological Survey Department's seismology team began efforts in 2021 to prepare Larnaca for this recognition. Multiple workshops have been held under the CoastWAVE framework, involving local bodies to design the city's hazard zone and formulate an evacuation plan. A readiness exercise and practical evacuation drills involving schools and critical population groups have already taken place.

"Larnaca was chosen for its low altitude and flat topography, which make it highly vulnerable to tsunamis, and because of its coastal development and critical infrastructure, such as the airport," the municipality stated. "Larnaca is the first candidate in the Mediterranean-North Atlantic region to use high-definition simulations for evacuation planning."

The Geological Survey Department's preparation pillars include mapping the hazard zone, creating evacuation plans with escape routes and assembly points, and installing necessary road markings to inform about the phenomenon and evacuation plan.

Key components also involve installing equipment like tidal gauges, seismographs, and sirens, updating the Ministry of Interior's national disaster plan to include a tsunami-specific plan, and launching extensive awareness, education, and preparedness initiatives for citizens and local authorities.

Signage installation has begun, guiding pedestrians towards escape routes and assembly points. This installation, along with information signs and maps, is expected to be completed by the end of 2024. Sirens will also be installed, and information leaflets will be distributed to residents, tailored for different age groups.

"This is a multifaceted, multidisciplinary effort requiring close cooperation between national and local authorities, critical bodies, scientists from various specialties, and the residents of Larnaca, who will ultimately use the system," the municipality emphasized.

"We anticipate that by 2026, UNESCO will declare Larnaca 'Tsunami Ready,' ensuring the highest level of safety for its residents in the event of a tsunami."

[Information sourced from CNA]

Cyprus  |  UNESCO  |  Larnaca

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