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ODPM Media Release WTAD 2016 - 04.11.16


Friday 04th November, 2016 – 11:45 a.m. 



The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management joins the rest of the world in recognising United Nations’ World Tsunami Awareness Day (WTAD) on 05th November, 2016 – the very first edition of this annual observance. WTAD is geared towards raising tsunami awareness and sharing innovative approaches to risk reduction with this year’s focus on education and evacuation drills. 


According to the UWI Seismic Research Centre, a tsunami (pronounced “soo-NAH-mee”) is an ocean wave or series of waves caused by a sudden disturbance of the ocean floor that displaces a large amount of water. Tsunamis are caused generally by earthquakes, less commonly by submarine landslides, infrequently by submarine volcanic eruptions and very rarely by large meteorite impacts in the ocean. More than 80% of tsunamis are caused by earthquakes however not all earthquakes can cause a tsunami. The earthquake must satisfy the following conditions:

  1. The earthquake must occur beneath the ocean or cause material to slide in the ocean.
  2. The earthquake must be strong, at least magnitude 6.5.
  3. The earthquake must rupture the Earth’s surface and it must occur at shallow depth – less than 70km below the surface of the Earth. 
  4. The earthquake must cause vertical movement of the sea floor (up to several metres).

There are three (3) types of tsunami:

  1. A local tsunami – occurs within 100km of the source; the warning time can be less than 20 minutes
  2. A regional tsunami – occurs within 100-1,000km of the source; the warning time is approximately 1–2 hours
  3. A teletsunami – occurs further than 1,000 km from the source; the warning time is up to 8 hours.

Our country is at risk for potential tsunami impact and as such communications is an integral aspect of tsunami awareness. Trinidad and Tobago is a member of the UNESCO/IOC Tsunami and Other Coastal Hazards Warning System for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions Conference (ICG/CARIBE EWS) which developed the Monthly Tsunami Communications Test. This test was developed to test the reception of Tsunami statements from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC) and has been conducted every month since October 2011. The statement is received by both the ODPM and the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Services and is disseminated from these agencies to key stakeholders via email and fax.


The scheduled test is conducted on the first Thursday of every month at 11:30 a.m. and response is only necessary if the message was not received by one or more of the methods of reception. In addition to this, there are two (2) unscheduled tests every year which may occur at any time of the day or night – the ODPM has one hour in which to respond by email the methods by which it was received. In the event of a real tsunami threat, the Statement would contain the best data on the earthquake parameters as well as the potential threat of Tsunami generation. Once there is confirmation from either a Sea Level Monitoring Station or a Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis (DART) Buoy, the bulletin would be updated to include this data and would also give arrival times of the first wave in all countries of potential impact.


Notwithstanding this early warning from the PTWC, citizens’ recognition of the natural tsunami warning signs is of primary importance. They are:

  1. FEEL the ground shaking especially along the coastline
  2. SEE the ocean recede, exposing the ocean floor, reefs and fish
  3. HEAR a loud roar coming from the ocean

Should you recognise any of the natural warning signs, run immediately inland to higher ground without waiting for official evacuation orders. Once you reach safety, do not return to affected until official word is given that it is safe to do so.

Citizens, especially those living in low-lying coastal communities, are encouraged to develop tsunami evacuation plans alongside the Disaster Management Unit of your respective Municipal Corporation, and practice regular drills. You are advised to take all necessary precautions to protect and preserve life with particular focus on your disaster preparedness kit using the checklist found on our website and our mobile application “Disaster Ready”.


For more information on tsunamis and World Tsunami Awareness Day, you can visit:




Issued by:

Public Information, Education and Community Outreach Unit

For further information, please Call:

ODPM’s Customer Call Centre 511

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