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Indian Ocean tsunami drill imagines M9.2 quake

world Updated: Oct 14, 2009 11:21 IST

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Marking World Disaster Reduction Day, a simulation that began at 8 AM today of a magnitude 9.2 earthquake off the northwestern coast of Indonesia's Sumatra Island is to test the readiness of warning and rescue agencies across the Indian Ocean.

Following the "quake," the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami bulletin for all areas of the ocean.

"Sea level readings indicate a tsunami was generated. It may already have been destructive along some coasts," the warning center says.

"Based on these data, the threat continues for all coastal areas of the Indian Ocean. Danger to boats and coastal structures can continue for several hours due to rapid currents."

Adding to the scenario, another bulletin is issued by the Japan Meteorological Agency in Tokyo.

The quake and the warning essentially replicate the massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Indonesia's Aceh Province on Dec 26, 2004.

That quake and tsunami, affecting countries from Australia to South Africa, killed about 230,000 people around the Indian Ocean, 170,000 of them in Aceh alone.

The simulated tsunami will spread in "real time" across the entire Indian Ocean, taking about 12 hours from 8 AM to travel from Indonesia to the coast of South Africa.

At least 18 countries are to participate in "Exercise Indian Ocean Wave 09."

The plan is to test and evaluate for the first time the effectiveness of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System established after the deadly 2004 tsunami.