The coast of Sindh-Makran is subject to multiple natural hazards, including cyclones, torrential rains, monsoon depressions and especially a tsunami, which can be triggered at any time and can cause unprecedented damage in the coastal belt of the Pakistan, Director-General of Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) Muhammad Riaz warned Thursday.
“The Makran subduction zone, which is less than 50 kilometers from the Sindh-Makran coast, is like a nuclear weapon in the sea. It can explode at any time. Maybe in 10-20 years or maybe tomorrow, who knows? An earthquake of magnitude 8 or greater can trigger a powerful tsunami, which can generate waves of up to 10 to 15 meters and cause unprecedented damage along the coast of Sindh-Makran, ”he said. a workshop on “Tsunami Risk Mitigation” at a local hotel in Karachi.
The workshop was organized by the PMD in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) and the Society of the Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS). Representatives of the Pakistan Navy, Pakistan Air Force, Karachi Fire Department and National Defense attended, as well as officials from Balochistan and the media.
Karachi Met Office Director Sardar Sarfraz, National Center for Seismic Monitoring and Tsunami Early Warning Ameer Hyder, Naeem Iqbal of UNDP and Dr Hayat Khan of PMD spoke on various aspects of risk mitigation of tsunami and the importance of early warning for tsunami and other natural hazards.
The PMD leader argued that the Sindh-Makran coast had already been devastated in 1945 when a powerful tsunami was caused by an earthquake in the Makran subduction zone which killed more than 4,000 people in the areas. coastal areas of Makran. He added that the active fault was gaining energy and could lead to another powerful tsunami, the duration of which could not be predicted.
“A subduction zone is like a trench in the sea. The Makran subduction zone is located about 30 to 50 kilometers from the coast of Makran. If a tsunami is triggered, it can hit the coast in five to 30 minutes, leaving very little time for the coastal community to react, ”explained Riaz, adding that in this situation it was imperative to conduct exercises and to educate the population. on how they should react in the event of a tsunami warning.
He argued that due to the tsunami threat on the Sindh-Makran coast, PMD established the National Seismic Monitoring and Tsunami Early Warning Center in Karachi, which monitors seismic activity at sea.
To a question, he said that the coasts of Gwadar and Makran were the most vulnerable area in the event of a tsunami generation in the Arabian Sea, but waves from a powerful tsunami could also reach Karachi in 20 to 30 minutes.
Calling for the tsunami threat to be kept in mind when starting new residential, commercial and other projects in Pakistan’s coastal areas, the PMD chief said buildings should be constructed in such a way that they can withstand earthquakes. and tsunamis.
PDMA Sindh Director General Salman Shah said they were aware of the risk of a tsunami along the Sindh-Makran coast and had identified four districts where 14 tsunami early warning systems would be installed. and delivered to PMD.
“But the most important aspect is training and awareness of people. We have thousands of villages along the more than 315 kilometer long coast of Sindh and in the event of a tsunami or even a cyclonic storm, they had to be evacuated within a short period of time, ”he said.
PRSC Secretary Kanwar Waseem explained the devastation of the December 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean, which caused unprecedented destruction and loss of life in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Maldives and in other countries. He added that the tsunami was the most dangerous natural disaster, which left little time to react.
Calling for the preparation of a volunteer system to warn coastal communities in the event of a tsunami or storm at sea, he said we should learn from Bangladesh who was training volunteers and using manual techniques to warn people in the event of a disaster. complete collapse of communication systems. .
Media representatives presented their plan to use mainstream electronic, digital and social media to inform coastal communities about tsunami warning.