Pakistan needs topographical survey to avert tsunami disaster

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Islamabad, November 29 (ANI): Oceanographic experts and seismologists have said that the coastal belt of Pakistan needs topographical survey to avert a tsunami disaster.

According to a report in Daily Times, experts have warned that the absence of topographical models for the cities lying in the coastal belt of Sindh and Balochistan and the sea can result in heavy losses.

The provinces of Sindh and Balochistan run a high risk for a possible tsunami due to the presence of the Makran Subduction Zone (MSZ) lying in the Balochistan region that has already been a victim of a destructive tsunami in the last century.

Experts claim that for disaster mitigation, it is necessary to conduct a bathymetrical and topographical survey of the Arabian Sea and coastal cities and towns of Sindh and Balochistan both.

According to Ulrich Wolf, programme specialist of the Tsunami Unit of Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, a department of UNESCO said, "Bathymetrical and topographical surveys are necessary to know the water levels at different positions and to understand the ocean physics to know what is lying in the sea bed."

"I would also suggest for a GIS survey of the coastal cities and towns along the Arabian Sea, so the authorities can identify the low lying areas that will be inundated in case of a tsunami and are better prepared for an emergency," he said.

Wolf said that it is possible to identify a tropical cyclone two days ahead giving time to evacuate, however it is different in case of a tsunami as it can only be known after it is generated giving very little time for preventive measures.

"Suppose in a big city like Karachi with an estimated one million inhabitants, the evacuation process would take several days, therefore an effective vulnerability reduction system is necessary," he said.

The Pakistan government has neither installed tide gauges on the coastal belt nor conducted any topographical or bathymetrical surveys of the Arabian Sea.

According to Ardito M Kodijat, programme officer for the Jakarta Tsunami Early Warning Centre and Liaison Officer for Disaster Risk Management, "We do not know when, where and how destructive the tsunami would be, but we know the presence of the MSZ makes it necessary to prepare to reduce the level of losses."

He said that it is also not possible to determine if the tsunami would not hit the costal belt but remain within the sea, therefore government must make preparations including construction of earthquake resistant buildings. (ANI)

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