Bisnis Bali quotes the chairman of the Bali Chapter of the Indonesian Conference and Convention Association (INCCA), I.B. Surakusuma (Lolec), as saying that the 6.8 earthquake experienced by Bali on October 23, 2011, should serve as a reminder to the tourism industry and the people of Bali that a system to handle natural earthquakes and the possibility of tsunamis is needed.
Saying God still smiled on Bali, Lolec said Bali was indeed lucky that it suffered no deaths as a result of the October earthquake. At the same time, he reminded that most of Bali’s conference and convention facilities are located next to shorelines making them vulnerable to earthquakes and resulting tsunamis. Because of this, Bali has a moral responsibility to have a risk management program in place for such natural disasters. Hotels and conference facilities must have managers and staff members who have been trained in what steps to take to protect guests in the event of a major earthquake. At the same time, the government must also have in place reliable information and warning systems to provide the earliest possible warning to the public.
The head of Bali Disaster Management Office (Pusdalops PB), Putu Anom Agustina, warns that Bali is very close to the fault zone between the Indo-Australian and Eurasia plates. If these plates begin to move, a potential for major earthquakes and tsunamis exists on a scale with the devastating earthquake experienced in Aceh, North Sumatra.
Unfortunately, admitted Agustina, earthquakes cannot be predicted in advance but only studied together after the fact. On the plus side, however, tsunamis can be detected in advance and warnings to the public issued.
To warn the public of an approaching tsunami six warning sirens have installed along Bali’s southern shore located at Tanjung Benoa, Kedonganan, Kuta, Seminyak, Sanur and Nusa Dua.
The Meteorology, Climate and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) and the Bali Disaster Management Office are monitoring earthquakes and potential tsunamis via seismographic buoys, tide gauges, global positioning systems and satellite imaging systems. When an earthquake occurs in the region, the threat of a tsunami is instantaneously assessed and this information is shared with the general public via TV, radio, telephone alerts, facsimile, emails, SMS and the tsunami alarm system.
Agustina said tourism industry members working near shorelines should be on the alert for signs of an imminent tsunami. The natural signs warning of an imminent tsunami include the sudden receding of the shoreline, unusual smells resembling rotten fish, thunderous sounds and the sudden appearance of off-breeze winds. In many cases, animals near a shoreline about to be hit by a tsunami have been known to suddenly become restless and seek higher grounds.
Any of these signs or the sounding of the tsunami alarm should serve as a cue to immediately evacuate away from the shoreline, following tsunami escape signs already installed by disaster agency officials
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