(i) The following advice is based upon best available information. However, all emergency situations are fluid and may produce unexpected events. The priority in emergency situations is to protect yourself and your family. These advisory pages are intended only as guidance to help you prepare. In the event of facing immediate danger, protecting yourself and your family is always the first priority.
(ii) Lists provided for emergency and evacuation kits are not exhaustive and will depend upon the circumstances of the individual(s).
A tsunami is a series of waves travelling at speeds of over 800 km/h in the deep ocean where they go unnoticed. Once the waves reach the shallow waters of the coast, the energy of the huge water body manifest themselves as they crash with devastating force across the shore, flooding low-lying areas, causing death and severe destruction. Tsunamis are generated primarily by earthquakes occurring below or near the ocean floor. Underwater volcanic eruptions, landslides or a meteorite can also generate tsunamis.
Mauritius was spared the devastating effects of the December 26, 2004 tsunami disaster, and to date we have no record of any significant tsunami affecting Mauritius. Nevertheless, there is a possibility that tsunamis generated from either the Sumatra or the Makran source could reach the coasts of Mauritius, Rodrigues, Agalega and St Brandon. Thus, we should be prepared and ready in the event of a potentially destructive tsunami.
· Find out if your home, school, workplace or other frequently visited locations are in tsunami hazard areas.
· Know the height of your street above sea level and the distance of your street from the coast or other high-risk waters.
· Plan evacuation routes from your home, school, workplace and other places you could be where tsunamis present a risk. If possible, pick areas at least 10 metres above sea level or go as far as 3 kilometres inland, away from the coastline. If you cannot get this high or far, go as high or far as you can. Every metre inland or upward may make a difference. You should aim to be able to reach your safe location on foot within 30 minutes.
· Find out what the school evacuation plan is. Find out if the plan requires you to pick your children up from school or from another location, or if the children will be evacuated separately (the usual likely scenario). If this is case, confirm where they will be evacuated to. Telephone lines during a tsunami watch or warning may be overloaded and routes to and from schools may be jammed.
· Practice your evacuation routes. Familiarity with your evacuation procedures can save your life. Be able to follow your escape route at night and during inclement weather. Practicing your plan makes the appropriate response into an automatic reaction, requiring less thinking during an actual emergency.
· If you are a tourist, familiarize yourself with local tsunami evacuation protocols. You may be able to safely evacuate to the third floor and higher in reinforced concrete hotel structures.
· Remember that earthquakes generate tsunamis: If you are at the beach or near the ocean, and you feel the earth shake, move immediately inland to higher ground. DO NOT wait for a tsunami warning to be issued. Stay away from rivers and streams that lead to the ocean due to strong tsunami wave action and currents.
Tsunami Warning System in Mauritius
The Tsunami Warning System in Mauritius has taken into consideration the degree of risk as well as the time factor. In virtue of its geographical location, Mauritius and Rodrigues have a lead-time of 5-7 hours before tsunami waves are likely to reach their coasts from either the Sumatra or the Makran source. The warning system consists of the following stages:
1. Tsunami Watch
This bulletin indicates that a strong earthquake, generally of the magnitude greater than or equal to 7.0 on the Richter Scale, has occurred in a region adjacent to the Indian Ocean and there is a possibility of a tsunami being generated. The bulletin is issued as a means of providing an advance alert to areas that could be impacted by destructive tsunami waves.
At this stage, the public, sea-goers and fishermen in particular will be advised not to venture out at sea or on the beach, boats to be secured ashore and vessels to proceed off lagoon.
2. Tsunami Warning
This bulletin confirms that a destructive tsunami will affect Mauritius / Rodrigues within the next 5-7 hours. In case the incident point is closer to Mauritius / Rodrigues, the lead-time will be correspondingly reduced.
· When a Tsunami Warning Bulletin is issued by the Mauritius Meteorological Services, announcements to evacuate will be made through TV & radio stations and Police hailers. The public is advised to follow the directives of the Police during evacuation.
· If you hear an official tsunami warning or detect signs of a tsunami, evacuate at once.
· Get to higher ground as far inland as possible. Watching a tsunami could put you in grave danger. If you can see the wave, you are too close to escape it.
· If you are in school and you hear there is a tsunami warning, you should follow the advice of teachers and other school of?cials.
· High, multi-story, reinforced concrete buildings along coastal areas can provide a safe refuge on the third ?oor and above, if you are unable to quickly move inland.
· Where possible, make sure your family, neighbours etc are aware of the warning and taking action. Tell them where you are going to if known.
· Avoid using the telephone to make unnecessary calls to avoid congesting the network and hindering evacuation efforts
· Tsunami waves are imperceptible in the open ocean. Do not return to port if you are at sea and a tsunami warning has been issued.
· Tsunamis can cause rapid changes in water level and unpredictable dangerous currents that are magni?ed in ports and harbours. Boats and boaters in these areas are classi?ed as a tsunami high risk group.
· Boats are safer from tsunami damage while in the deep ocean of at least 200 fathoms deep (1,200 feet or 400 metres) rather than moored in a harbour. Port facilities could become damaged and hazardous with debris. Listen to mariner radio reports when it is safe to return to port.
· Do not risk your life and attempt to motor your boat into deep water if it is too close to wave arrival time. Anticipate slowdowns caused by traf?c gridlock and many other boaters heading out to sea. Small boat owners may ?nd it safest to leave their boat and physically move to higher ground.
· Concurrent severe weather conditions may also make this the only option.
· In a locally generated earthquake - tsunami scenario, there will be no time to deploy a boat as waves can come ashore within minutes.
· Damaging wave activity and unpredictable currents can affect harbours for a long time following the initial tsunami impact on the coast. Contact the port authority or listen to mariner radio reports before returning to port. Make sure that conditions in the harbour are safe for navigation and berthing.
· If you see an unexpected rise or fall in the sea, or experience an earthquake in a coastal area, a tsunami may be approaching. You should immediately head for higher ground.
· Stay tuned to your radio or TV. Information bulletin regarding the situation will be broadcast regularly
· Follow the emergency signs and the directives of the Police
· Never go to the coast to try to watch a tsunami. Tsunamis move faster than a person can run or drive safely. If you can see the wave, you are too close to escape it.
· Do not return to the coast until Emergency Officials give the “All Clear” signal
· All low lying coastal areas can be struck by a tsunami
· Tsunami can occur at any time of day or night
· Tsunami can travel up rivers and streams from the ocean
· Tsunami can easily wrap around Island and be just as dangerous on coasts not facing the source of the tsunami
· Prepare an emergency kit with basic necessities Share your knowledge with family and friends, it could save their lives
· During a tsunami emergency, your local police, fire, and other emergency response organizations will try to save your life. Give them your fullest cooperation.
This bulletin is issued by the MMS after information from the Police, Fisheries post, Environment Officials, observations from tide gauges at Port Louis and Port Mathurin and general sea state observation confirm that significant tsunami waves are no longer being noted. Monitor radio and TV closely and do not assume the danger has passed until the termination bulletin. Destructive waves can continue for some time after the initial tsunami arrival.
After a tsunami
· Return home only after local officials tell you it is safe. A tsunami is a series of waves that may continue for hours. Do not assume that after one wave the danger is over. The next wave may be larger than the first one.
· Check yourself for injuries and get first aid as needed before helping injured or trapped persons.
· If someone needs to be rescued, call professionals with the right equipment to help. Many people have been killed or injured trying to rescue others.
· Help people who require special assistance—infants, elderly people, those without transportation, people with disabilities and large families who may need additional help in an emergency situation.
· Avoid disaster areas. Your presence might interfere with emergency response operations and put you at further risk from the residual effects of floods.
· Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
· Stay out of any building that has water around it. Tsunami water can cause floors to crack or walls to collapse.
· Use caution when re-entering buildings or homes. Tsunami-driven floodwater may have damaged buildings where you least expect it. Carefully watch every step you take.
· To avoid injury, wear protective clothing and be cautious when cleaning up.