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World Tsunami Awareness Day

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World Tsunami Awareness Day is observed on November 5 every year. Japan is credited for starting this observance, owing to its repeated, bitter tsunamis experience. Over the years, it has built up major expertise in certain areas such as tsunami early warning, public action, and building back better after a disaster to reduce future impacts. The United Nations designated this day to raise awareness about the importance of education about tsunamis to ensure that communities act decisively and without panic when tsunami warnings reach them.


On December 22, 2015, the United Nations, through resolution 70/23, designated November 5 as World Tsunami Awareness Day. Although they are rare, tsunamis are one of the most devastating and dangerous natural disasters. They have no borders since they do not affect only coastal communities. They also reach and destroy other towns and communities that are located away from the coast.

Coastal communities are the most vulnerable when there is a risk of a tsunami. Even though tsunamis are hazardous, there are often natural warnings that a tsunami may be approaching. It could be strong ground shaking, volcanic eruptions, or the water receding unusually far and exposing the seafloor. International cooperation is key in trying to raise global awareness about effective actions, policies, and practices to reduce exposure to this kind of natural disaster.

About 58 tsunamis have taken more than 260,000 lives in the past 100 years, more than any other natural disaster. The highest number of deaths during those 100 years occurred in December 2004 when the Indian Ocean tsunami took place. It caused approximately 227,000 fatalities in 14 countries, including Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand. Just three weeks after that tsunami, the international community came together in Kobe, Japan, where Governments adopted the 10-year Hyogo Framework for Action. This agreement was the first comprehensive global agreement on disaster risk reduction.

Rapid urbanization and growing tourism in tsunami regions are putting even more people in danger. That is why it is so important that the world makes everything possible to achieve a substantial reduction in disaster mortality.

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