In the pursuit of enhancing the tsunami preparedness of coastal communities, the IOC/UNESCO together with the Seismology Team at the Geological Survey Department of Cyprus, organized between 26-27 September, 2023 a workshop focused on developing tsunami evacuation maps for Larnaka, a coastal town that aspires to attain UNESCO IOC Tsunami Ready status by mid-2024.
Participants of the workshop
This essential workshop, a constituent of the IOC EU DG ECHO CoastWave project, facilitated constructive engagement with relevant stakeholders, including Cyprus Civil Defense. The event leveraged local expertise and experience, allowing stakeholders to validate the evacuation base map while also identifying potential challenges linked to the mapping of tsunami evacuation routes and assembly areas.
Participants undertook a comprehensive discussion encompassing various facets of coastal evacuation principles. This entailed considerations of potential risks associated with prolonged coastal journeys before reaching the safety of evacuation zones, deliberations on the viability of foot-based evacuations as opposed to the use of vehicles, and the exploration of diversified options for constructing effective evacuation plans.
The workshop's inception was marked by a warm welcome from Dr. Sylvana Pilidou, who introduced the IOC DG ECHO Project's implementation in Larnaka. Following this, Dr. Denis Chang Seng, IOC Programme Specialist and CoastWAVE Responsible Project Officer, delivered insights into the pivotal role of evacuation mapping in the process of achieving Tsunami Ready recognition, not only for Larnaka but also for other North-Eastern Atlantic, the Mediterranean and connected seas (NEAM) communities.
Dr. Nikos Kalligeris from the National Observatory of Athens, Greece, enriched the workshop with discussions on the development of Larnaka's tsunami hazard zones, while Ignacio Mr. Aguirre Ayerbe (IHCantabria) was instrumental in introducing the preliminary tsunami evacuation maps for Larnaka. He also guided working group participants on how to conduct the validation of the tsunami evacuation map.
Desk top validation of the tsunami evacuation map
During the workshop's second day, participants embarked on a site visit to validate evacuation routes, hotspots, and alternative assembly points. This exercise highlighted concerns such as potential evacuation obstacles, ongoing construction developments, and risks to evacuees, including drainage flooding and building vulnerabilities.
Site visit organized to validate the critical evacuation routes, hot spots, and any alternative assembly proposals
To move forward, government approval of tsunami evacuation maps is crucial. This will enable the development of essential tools like Standard Operating Procedures, tsunami signage, and response exercises. These maps also offer a foundation for improving town planning to enhance coastal evacuation and resilience.
A significant milestone was reached with the adoption of probabilistic tsunami hazard assessment (PTHA) methodology, making Larnaka the first in the NEAM region to employ high-resolution simulations for evacuation planning. This achievement results from exceptional collaboration between the Cyprus Geological Survey Department, Greece's National Cyprus Geological Survey Department (NOA), Italy's Instituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), and Spain's Instituto de Hidráulica Ambiental de la Universidad de Cantabria (IHCantabria).
The workshop had 45 participants, with 42% women, emphasizing collective efforts to enhance Larnaka's tsunami resilience.
Participants of the workshop during the site visit