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Tsunami had claimed over 260,000 lives

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By Mercy Kelani

WTAD is based on a Japanese historical event that occurred in 1854.

Through the UN Resolution 70/203 which was adopted on 22 December 2015, the United Nations has appointed November 5 as World Tsunami Awareness Day, which is in alignment with the International Day for Disaster Reduction, October 13, and also the seven targets of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030. Although, tsunamis are rare events, they can be one of the deadliest and costliest hazards when they occur, greatly affecting economic sectors, agriculture, housing and tourism.

According to research, November 5, which marks the World Tsunami Awareness Day, is built on an anecdote and example of a good practice referred to in Japan as “Inamura-no-hi” (the burning of rice sheaves). This occurrence is an historical event that occurred during a huge tsunami disaster which was a result of the 1854 Anesi Nankai Earthquake. Japan therefore proposed November 5 because the World Tsunami Awareness Day is marked to protect the lives of people.

Rapid urbanization and growing tourism increase the risk of a tsunami.

The United Nations affirmed that by the year 2030, an estimation of 50 percent of the world’s population will live in coastal areas with exposure to flooding, storms, and tsunamis. Therefore, international cooperation is required from developing countries as well, to make sure that every community at risk of tsunami are prepared for and resilient to tsunamis by 2030. This is because in the past 100 years, 58 tsunami occurrences have claimed over 260,000 lives, greatly exceeding any other natural disaster.

The highest number of deaths that have been caused by tsunami was in the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004, which caused nearly 230,000 fatalities in 14 countries including Indonesia, India, Thailand, and Sri Lanka. With frequent research, it has been proven that rapid Urbanization and increasing tourism in regions that are prone to tsunami put many more people at risk of a tsunami disaster. Resultantly, reduction of risk becomes a key factor in achieving substantial reductions in disaster mortality.

Tsunamis occur mostly in the Pacific Ocean and its marginal seas.

Currently in Nigeria, there is about 2 percent chance of a massive tsunami occurrence in the next 50 years. However, if a tsunami occurs along the West African subregion, the worst destruction would be suffered by Nigeria, endangering the offshore and onshore oil installation (petroleum, gas and others) in all its entirety. Many towns in Port Harcourt, Calabar and Lagos states would suffer severe destruction. Even the Niger Delta of Nigeria would be seriously damaged.

All coastal areas and river estuary are potentially threatened by tsunamis, nonetheless, they most often occur on shores facing a megathrust directly. Scientists’ estimation has it that about three quarter of the world tsunamis happen in the Pacific Ocean and its marginal seas, which is most likely as a result of the ubiquity of the megathrusts (subduction zones) around it and the many large earthquakes along the margins of the Pacific Ocean. The tsunamis mostly occur in countries like Alaska, Philippines, Aleutian Islands, Chile, Japan, and others.

The UN set goal helps countries to prepare against tsunamis together.

In 2021, the United Nations set a goal, ensuring that all communities at risk of a tsunami are Tsunami-Ready by 2030. IOC-UNESCO Tsunami Ready recognition has proven that different countries and communities can work together towards the reduction of the risk of catastrophic hazards that can lead to death and destruction, greatly affecting the livelihoods of Vulnerable Populations. It is easier for these communities to prepare and become resilient together through the improvement of warnings, enhancement of preparedness and practice of response drills.


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