3 Jul, 2024 @ 13:26
2 mins read

Watch: Major resort is first in Spain to be declared ‘tsunami ready’ by the UN after performing evacuation drills and erecting warning signs – as experts predict monster wave ‘within 30 years’ 

A RESORT town on the Atlantic coast has become the first in Spain to be declared ‘tsunami ready’.

Chipiona, a holiday hotspot of 19,000 people just north of Cadiz, was given the award by a United Nations body in a ceremony on June 21.

It becomes just the third community in Europe – after Cannes and Buyukcekmece (Istanbul) – to achieve recognition by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) Tsunami Ready programme.

Models have forecast that, if Chipiona were hit by a 6-metre mega wave, the entire seaside town would be completely inundated with water.

READ MORE: Spain tsunami warning: Experts say deadly weather phenomenon will hit the country by this date – with multiple coasts at risk

‘What to do’ signs have been put up around Chipiona has part of their ‘Tsunami ready’ award. Copyright: Walter Finch

As part of achieving the ‘tsunami ready’ status, the town has been kitted out with ‘What to do’ information boards and signs indicating emergency evacuation routes in case of the natural disaster.

Chipiona carried out a simulated evacuation drill last November, in which warning sirens sounded and 235 children and staff from a local school headed towards a tsunami assembly point on higher ground.

Chipiona beachfront. Copyright: Walter Finch

IOC chief Vidar Helgesen said: “Recognising Chipiona as Tsunami Ready is a significant step forward in ensuring the safety and resilience of coastal communities. 

“This recognition underscores the importance of raising awareness and educating communities about coastal hazards, ensuring a proactive approach to disaster preparedness.” 

READ MORE: WATCH: ‘Meteo-tsunami’ strikes Spain’s Menorca as footage shows huge wave washing away sunbeds while tourists flee to safety

It comes as experts have predicted that Spain is ever more likely to be hit by a tsunami, attributed to the region’s proximity to tectonic plate boundaries.

According to a study titled ‘Probabilistic Tsunami in the Mediterranean Sea’, the Alboran Sea between the southern Spanish coast and North Africa is one of the areas that experiences the highest levels of seismic activity.

Tremors here could cause massive waves that would hit the coasts of Valencia, Malaga or the Balearic Islands. 

Chipiona mayor Luis Mario Aparcero poses with his team and the IOC officials. UNESCO / Innova Films

The reason for this risk is the Averroes fault, located near the Island of Alboran, roughly halfway between the Malaga coast and North Africa. 

A major undersea earthquake at this fault could cause waves of up to six metres in height and would reach the Spanish coast in a time frame of 21 to 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, a tsunami originating in Cape St. Vincent, off the coast of Portugal, would take some 40 minutes to reach the coast of Cadiz. 

Evacuation route signs litter Chipiona. Copyright: Walter Finch

The ICO has warned that there is a high probability that a tsunami measuring over one metre will hit the Mediterranean. 

In fact, the odds are 100% that one will arrive in the next 30 years, according to the ICO.

For the Cadiz coast, the probability is considerably lower: 10% in the next 50 years.

Walter Finch

Walter - or Walt to most people - is a former and sometimes still photographer and filmmaker who likes to dig under the surface.
A NCTJ-trained journalist, he came to the Costa del Sol - Gibraltar hotspot from the Daily Mail in 2022 to report on organised crime, corruption, financial fraud and a little bit of whatever is going on.
Got a story? walter@theolivepress.es

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