Emergency agencies prepare for major coastal tsunami

Costa Rica joined neighboring Caribbean countries in carrying out a multinational tsunami simulation. The Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias led the emergency test situation Wednesday in the port city of Limón.

Led in part by the U.N. International Oceanographic Commission, the emergency response simulation marked the third event in the large-scale tsunami alert exercise, Caribe Wave 2014. The scenario was based on a tsunami that hit the coast of Portugal in 1755 stemming from an earthquake that reached 8.5 on the Richter scale. Tens of thousands were killed by the natural disaster.

Local government groups also participated in the exercise that tested the effectiveness of the nation’s communication channels and emergency response capabilities. The Cruz Roja, fire departments, police units, and the national guard all took part in the tsunami risk assessment session held at the Limón fire station.

Only 23 tsunamis of the estimated 100 that have hit the Americas have made contact with nearby shorelines, according to historical records. They are mainly due to underwater volcanoes and shifting sheer ridges in the deep sea.

Though major tsunamis have not recently hit the coasts of any Caribbean countries, Nicaragua was affected 20 years ago by a tsunami on its Pacific side that killed more than 100 people.

The deadliest tsunami in human history occurred 10 years ago in the Indian Ocean, killing more than 230,000 people in numerous countries. It was triggered by an earthquake that exceeded a magnitude of 9.1.

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