Via IRIN Asia: SRI LANKA: Tsunami preparedness pays off. Excerpt:
Strong community awareness and preparedness are being cited for last week's successful evacuation of more than one million Sri Lankans after a tsunami alert was triggered by an 8.6 magnitude earthquake off the west coast of Sumatra in Indonesia.
"People were well prepared on how to evacuate. Everyone knew what to do, what routes to take," Major General Gamini Hettiarchchi, the director general of Sri Lanka's Disaster Management Centre (DMC), On 11 April at 2:08 pm local time, less than an hour after the quake, Sri Lanka's Metrological Department issued the warning and a call to evacuate to higher ground. Two hours later a second warning was issued following an 8.2 aftershock.
The earthquake occurred 440km southwest of Banda Aceh, the city most impacted by the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, which left over 230,000 people dead across more than a dozen countries, including more than 35,000 in Sri Lanka.
This time, more than 1,500 coastal communities from Puttalam District in the west to Jaffna District at the very northern tip of the island were evacuated in less than two hours.
Village level committees, set up under DMC supervision, were activated to oversee and assist in the evacuations, and on a national level the DMC office in the capital, Colombo, coordinated with district level committees and DMC district sub-units.
Nationwide alerts were sent out on radio, television and mobile phone networks, while the police and armed services were mobilized to communicate the warning to villages. At the same time, 75 tsunami warning towers along the coast were activated to set off sirens, Hettiarchchi said.
Although some towers failed to work property, the vast majority did, alerting coastal residents to the potential threat throughout this island nation. Many people had participated in awareness training and drills in recent years.