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Old February 27th, 2005, 11:09 PM   #1
hkskyline
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Tsunami Disaster Planning

South China Morning Post
February 27, 2005
Revealed: HK's killer wave disaster plan 'Doomsday scenario' emergency strategy to evacuate danger zones in two hours
Simon Parry



A tsunami disaster plan aimed at saving as many lives as possible if a giant wave struck Hong Kong has been drawn up by the government as part of a review of contingencies for natural calamities, the Sunday Morning Post has learned.

Police and five government departments have prepared guidelines for a "doomsday scenario" in which a tsunami like the devastating Indian Ocean one of December 26 engulfs the city.

Working on the assumption that there could be less than two hours' warning, they have looked into how to clear MTR stations and road tunnels, contain public panic and get as many people as possible to a safe height above sea level before the huge wave struck.

Secretary for Security Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong will on Saturday launch a year -long public information drive - "Safer living - reducing natural disaster campaign" - to promote the guidelines, along with contingencies for other catastrophes such as earthquakes and floods.

The campaign - the biggest disaster awareness project of its kind in Hong Kong - involves police, the Red Cross, the Security Bureau, the Observatory and the Civil Engineering, Drainage Services and Information Services departments.

Television and newspaper campaigns, public service announcements and lectures are expected to be organised throughout the year to hammer home information on what to do if a tsunami approaches the city or if another type of natural disaster strikes.

The initiative follows criticism of the government from geologists at the University of Hong Kong, who told the South China Morning Post last month there was no coherent action plan to deal with the approach of a tsunami.

A group of senior police officers met the geologists the next week and have now drawn up a disaster plan based on the approach of a tsunami triggered by an underwater earthquake off the northern Philippines.

Such an earthquake would theoretically be picked up by the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre, giving Hong Kong advance warning of the approach of the wave.

"We might have only two hours' warning or maybe less," said Superintendent Joseph Yam Chiu-fan, assistant district commander for Kowloon City, who met the academics and worked on the police plan.

"From our research, based on what happened in Phuket, anywhere above 15 metres from sea level will be safe. We would need to evacuate all the tunnels and the MTR and cross-harbour tunnels and keep people away from the beaches and seafront."

Under the plan, the Observatory and the media would be used to alert people to an approaching tsunami, while police would take charge of evacuation procedures and public order, as well as identifying victims in a worst-case scenario.

Superintendent Yam said a tsunami was only likely to strike every 200 years but said: "We cannot eliminate the risk. It is important to know how to warn the public and to have a contingency plan in place."

A spokesman for the Civil Engineering Department, which is co-ordinating next week's launch, said the campaign would cover "not only tsunami but a number of different types of disasters".

He denied the campaign was a direct response to the tsunami, saying the government had been planning a disaster management campaign before then.

Andrew Malone, of the University of Hong Kong's Earth Sciences Department and former head of the government's Geotechnical Department said: "It is good to see that there is such a well co-ordinated response. It is a very positive step and I am confident that it will be competently managed."

Fellow academic Jason Ali, who held talks with police, said the disaster plan was based on the assumption that not everybody could be saved if a tsunami struck but its impact could be reduced.

He said the government's response had been "fantastic". "We raised the level of awareness and they responded accordingly."

A spokesman for the Security Bureau said: "The plan will build on the established contingency plans and systems and set out the arrangements for future responses to catastrophic events outside the SAR."

But retired academic Leung Chik-wing, former head of geography at the university, said warning systems might not detect a "tsunami" if it was triggered by a typhoon.

Fifteen thousand people died when a nine-metre-high wave swept across Hong Kong in 1937. Mr Leung said the risk of a repeat catastrophe had been heightened by reclamation and inadequate sea defences.

Separately, Disney is understood to be taking the possibility of a tsunami into account as it draws up safety guidelines for its Hong Kong theme park, which opens in September.

Disney representatives have contacted tsunami experts and theme park spokeswoman Esther Wong confirmed the guidelines for the Penny's Bay theme park were being updated.
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Last edited by hkskyline; September 9th, 2007 at 05:47 PM.
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Old August 30th, 2007, 05:50 AM   #2
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What areas of HK can be affected. Most likely Lantau, Lamma or the south part of HK Island.
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Old August 31st, 2007, 08:02 AM   #3
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Sai Kung and Lantau most at risk from tsunami, study finds
29 August 2007
South China Morning Post

Areas of Sai Kung and Lantau Island would be most at risk from a tsunami close to 2 metres high if there was a repeat of the strongest earthquake recorded in the South China Sea near the Philippines, the Observatory says.

But the weathermen said there would be a limited impact on most of Hong Kong, including heavily built-up areas of Victoria Harbour and the south of Hong Kong Island, as they were sheltered from direct hits by waves.

The findings were revealed after an international team of scientists found there was a 10 per cent chance of Hong Kong and Macau being hit by waves of more than 2 metres in the next 100 years, if an intense earthquake occurred on the Manila Trench, where seismic activity remains a threat.

Cities in Taiwan were less vulnerable than those along the mainland coast, the study found.

Research by teams from the Graduate University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing and the University of Minnesota, using a newly developed computer model, was published in the Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors Journal on August 15.

The Observatory said its own computer model had also found similar findings, but with greater detail.

Wong Wing-tak, an Observatory senior scientific officer, said some low-lying coastal areas in the south of the mainland could be hit by waves higher than 2 metres should there be a strong earthquake in the northern part of the Manila Trench.

He said the Observatory's supercomputer had predicted that a recurrence of the strongest quake in the South China Sea, a 7.6 magnitude quake west of Luzon in 1934, could trigger a tsunami of close to 2 metres high that may hit beaches facing east in Sai Kung, and Shek Pik on Lantau Island.

"Having said that, we couldn't find any signs of local impact when we reviewed the literature about the 1934 earthquake," Mr Wong said.

The computer modelling, which can take up to 30 hours to predict the tsunami impact of a single quake, has been running for months and has already tested hundreds of cases. It is aimed at building up a database for a warning system following the Asian tsunami in 2004, in which more than 225,000 people died.

Chan Lung-sang, from the University of Hong Kong's Department of Earth Sciences, said while an earthquake in the Manila Trench could lead to a tsunami, the chances of a disastrous impact by a mega-tsunami remained low.

A two-year study, which Mr Chan carried out with colleagues and has yet to be published, reviewed historical reports of tsunamis in southern China over the past 1,000 years and discovered the impact of such tsunamis had been exaggerated.

"The real hits that caused damage numbered just one or two, in contrast to what was [reported] of about a dozen cases, with one claimed to have resulted in more than 100,000 deaths or injuries," he said.

Small tsunamis with wave heights measuring less than 30cm have been recorded five times in Hong Kong since 1952.

The latest was on Boxing Day last year after a 7.1 magnitude quake occurred under the sea south of Taiwan, triggering a wave of less than 10cm high in Hong Kong.

The earthquake caused internet connections in the region to be disrupted for weeks.
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