THE seaside town of Chipiona in southwestern Spain is one of the five zones designated by UNESCO as at high risk of experiencing a tsunami within the next thirty years.

Chipiona, in the Andalucian province of Cadiz joins Marseille, Cannes, Istanbul and Alexandria in being classified as at-risk communities that need to become “tsunami-ready”. 

This follows a study from UNESCO which claimed that the probability of a tsunami on the Mediterranean coastline in the next 30 years is almost 100%.

The “tsunami-ready” programme aims to ensure that by 2030, communities will know how to respond in the event of a tsunami. 

This plan will be discussed further at the United Nations Oceans conference taking place in Lisbon next week.

Experts worry that towns and cities on the Mediterranean coast underestimate the risk of tsunamis because they are not as frequent as, for example, in the Indian Ocean. 

However, this increases the danger as fewer measures are enforced and warnings are not passed down through generations.

Chipiona is on the Atlantic coast on Spain’s southwestern corner.

One of the deadliest earthquakes in history occurred on that same stretch of coastline in 1755. This resulted in a significant earthquake with waves of 6m high in Lisbon and Cadiz killing thousands.

The threat caused by a tsunami in the 21st century would be significantly greater due to rising sea levels. 

Studies in Macau, China show that the higher the sea levels, the further inland tsunami waves will travel.

UNESCO plans to support these towns and cities as they enforce preparation measures such as alert systems. 

Lead tsunami expert for UNESCO, Bernardo Aliaga, stated “In the Mediterranean, there is no question about it: it is not if, it’s when.”

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