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Earthquake exercise tests emergency teams

by PAULO SILVESTRE [email protected]

An earthquake exercise has revealed that the region would be the scene of a “disastrous scenario”, with thousands of deaths and injuries and high levels of damage.

Civil protection and emergency services held the exercise on Monday to evaluate the effect on the Algarve today if it was to be hit by an earthquake similar to the devastating mid-18th century events (see Algarve Resident November 19 edition).

The exercise simulated the impact of an earthquake registering 8.7 on the Richter scale, with an epicentre 120 kilometres off Cape St Vincent.

Various events were simulated, such as tremors and a tsunami, which would lead to the collapse of buildings, bridges, railways and roads, as well as floods, fires and other devastating episodes.

Taken together, these would cause substantial damage to property and the environment, as well as many fatalities and injuries.

According to the results of the simulation, an event like this would cause between 2,100 and 5,900 deaths, up to 3,500 serious injuries, between 2,500 and 6,400 minor injuries, leave between 11,800 and 32,700 people homeless and completely destroy more than 3,000 buildings.

Successful

The exercise, called ALGARVE SISMAR’10 and coordinated by the Algarve Civil Protection, was designed to test the response of the emergency services in the region.

The Secretary of State for Civil Protection, Vasco Franco, told the Algarve Resident: “This exercise has been very successful in testing the Civil Protection Special Emergency Plan for Seismic and Tsunami Risk in the Algarve (PEERST-Alg).”

He said that despite the complexity of the exercise, the response of the 16 municipalities in the Algarve was excellent.

“All the municipalities had a very active participation. This simulation exercise is extremely useful as it allows for a better understanding of an event like this and will increase the response ability of security forces and municipalities in the region significantly.”

The Secretary of State also praised the work that was put into developing the seismic simulator by the National Authority for Civil Protection (ANPC) .

Carlos Silva Gomes, Director of the PEERST-Alg plan, praised the strong commitment of the Algarve municipalities to the exercise.

He told the Algarve Resident: “While the planning is done at district level, the key to its implementation and success depends largely on a municipal level. It was possible to determine that the coordination between the security forces and câmaras worked effectively.”

However, the exercise also enabled improvements to be made to the PEERST-Alg plan.

The Algarve Civil Protection commander Vaz Pinto told the Algarve Resident: “The improvements will be introduced by the end of January 2011.”
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