Oman adopts an early warning system to address natural disasters

The Sultanate of Oman will launch a National Multi Hazard Early Warning System (NMHEWS) on 23 March. This system, implemented with the technical support of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, was designed to respond to natural hazards, including tsunamis, cyclones and flash floods. The launch of the system coincides with a two-day scientific regional conference (on 22-23 March), followed by the 10th Session of the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (ICG/IOTWS-X) on 24-26 March, which will bring together representatives of over 20 of the countries in the region.

The system is the result of a collaboration between IOC-UNESCO and Oman that began in 2009. It will support monitoring, data processing and Standard Operating Procedures, as well as training of personnel and the operation of sea-level stations. Since 2010, IOC-UNESCO and the Omani government have also been collaborating in the development of a Tsunami Early Warning System as part of the over-all multi-hazard early warning system.

A regional conference entitled Reducing Tsunami Risk in the Western Indian Ocean will cover, in particular, the history of Makran tsunamis, natural hazard assessment in the region, and the functions of the newly implemented warning system.  

The Makran Subduction Zone, an active boundary between tectonic plates, is believed to pose a tsunami hazard in the western Indian Ocean, but the nature of this hazard is still poorly understood. The plate-boundary thrust in the eastern part of the zone produced an earthquake and associated tsunami in 1945. A smaller tsunami occurred in the same region much more recently, in September 2013, in conjunction with the formation of an ephemeral island off the coast of Pakistan. Oman is also subject to far-field tsunamis from the Sunda Trench, as well as tropical cyclones and flash floods.

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Media contact :

Agnès Bardon, UNESCO Press service

Tel : +33 (0) 1 45 68 17 64, a.bardon(at)unesco.org

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