The SA Navy is supporting the United Nations’ Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System set up in the wake of the 26 December 2004 flood wave.
The Navy’s latest annual report says the sea service installed real-time tide-information satellite transmitters at its facilities in Durban, Port Elizabeth and Simon’s Town at the request of the UN Economic, Social and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO) Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC).
“These transmitters contribute to international maritime safety, as they form part of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System, with the data being used to monitor weather and tidal patterns,” the annual report says.
The UNESCO-IOC received a mandate from the international community to coordinate the establishment of the system following several international and regional meetings, including the World Conference on Disaster Reduction in Kobe, Japan in January 2005.
The IOC website adds that all participating countries receive international tsunami warnings from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) in Hawaii and the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) “and most countries receive these warnings at facilities with back-up systems for receiving warning messages that operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Part of the tragedy of the 2004 tsunami, caused by a massive underwater quake off Indonesia, was detected in good time by the PTWC but that they had no system to warn Indian Ocean Rim states of the looming disaster. The wikipedia records that over 225 000 people in eleven countries were killed by waves up to 30 meters high. “It was one of the deadliest natural disasters in history.”