INSIGHT INTO A UNIQUE PHENOMENON
For this Column Volume’s Insight, the AHA Centre invited a young contributor who was also one of its interns – Eviana Rosida – to develop an interesting and informative article. Evi’s current studies in disaster management see her focusing on the unique occurrence of tidal flooding, upon which she has developed this volume’s Insight article. For the ASEAN region, with a coastline 173,00 km in total length, and nine nations bordering the sea or having maritime zones, the potential for tidal flooding is significant. Increasing population density in coastal areas across the region also increases potential impact, while many high-density areas facing the sea are formed by coastal cities.
ABOUT TIDAL FLOODS
Tidal floods in coastal areas may happen due to the process of rising sea water, tidal waves (different from tsunami), the high flow of river water, or general sea level rises. Naturally, tropical cyclones can also trigger a tidal flood. A tidal flood is a flood due to the tidal process that inundates land/coastal areas that are located lower than the average sea level. Long ocean waves are related to tides, and are characterised by the rhythmic rise and fall of the sea surface after a period of several hours. A rising tide is usually referred to as the flow, while the decreasing tide is called the ebb.
There is also a connection between tides and the sun and moon. Tides are in their highest state when the moon is full or new, and high tidal times at a particular location can be estimated (but not exactly) associated with the position of the moon in the sky. Water at the end of the beach bordering the ocean never stays at a fixed height, but they always move up and down according to the tide cycle. These elements also have an impact on tidal flooding.
THE FORMATION OF TIDAL FLOOD PROCESS
As the tidal process undertakes its vertical movement of sea level, these shallow water waves are produced by the gravitational force of the moon and sun on the ocean. The intensity of the force varies according to the position of the moon, sun and earth, and as a result, large tides see the water (with the help of gravitational forces) flow into low places and fill the space, inundating these lower parts.
Tidal flood can be caused by anthropogenic activities, particularly due to land degradation. Human populations living in coastal areas result in high use of groundwater. This use of ground water that exceeds the limit of the groundwater’s ability to replenish is called exploitation, and can increase vulnerability to inundation due to tidal flooding. Tidal floods have hit several areas in Java, Indonesia for example, as the density of people who live on Java has an impact on land subsidence, with high groundwater exploitation causing water to easily inundate the land. The impact of tidal flood sees bodies of sea water causing damage to asphalt roads, and damage to motorised vehicles and bicycles. In addition, sea water that enters the land (sea water intrusion) causes the groundwater to taste salty, and meaning it cannot be used as raw material for drinking water or for daily needs. Salty groundwater can also have a significant negative effect on farming livelihoods in an inundated region.
TIDAL FLOOD PREVENTION
In the short-term, such events may be prevented by building dikes to withstand the tidal waves of sea water heading to the mainland. More long-term, the effect of tidal flooding can be reduced by planting mangroves. Mangrove forests play an important role as ocean wave breakers, retaining wind speeds, and as a habitat for various flora and fauna. Such biological prevention techniques can also be supported by physical development, such as building wall borders between sea and land to act as a wave breaker. Communities who live in coastal area must also be aware about rising sea levels, and reducing exploitation of groundwater so that land subsidence can be avoided.
PREPAREDNESS AND SAFETY TIPS
The ASEAN region faces flooding on a regular basis, that takes its toll on the lives, livelihoods and economies of the region’s communities. Of the 1,586 disasters monitored by the AHA Centre in 2018 across ASEAN, 56.5% were floods, a large majority of which were experienced by Indonesia, as well as frequently affecting communities in Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, and Viet Nam. Such constant occurrences also provide us with a better opportunity to understand and prepare for flooding emergencies, in order to lighten the impact should your home be inundated by floodwaters. The following tips and processes can be applied and implemented throughout the ASEAN region, to help ensure the safety of you, your family and your property should water levels rise.
BEFORE A FLOOD
Whether before the wet season, or with an impending storm heading your way, there are a number of simple steps you can take to prepare for floods. We recommend that all ASEAN citizens – particularly those living in flood-prone regions – undertake the following actions on a yearly basis.
1. KNOW FLOOD POINTS AND SAFETY POINTS
Both within your home and the surrounding community, learn your high spots and how to get there quickly. Your safety of course depends on the height of the floodwaters on any given occasion, but the higher you can be the more likely you will remain safe.
2. LEARN YOUR LOCAL WARNING SYSTEMS
Almost all local governments will have warning systems, especially those in areas known to flood, so learn what they are, what to do, and do as you are told should the systems turn on.
3. MONITOR CONDITIONS
Whether through the AHA Centre, your National Disaster Management Organisation, or your local news and weather broadcaster, always remain up-to-date with the latest weather conditions and flood warnings.
4. PREPARE A GRAB-BAG
Important for any disaster preparedness situation, a Grab-Bag should be prepared should you have to leave in haste due to rising waters. Amongst other things, it should contain water, nutritional food/snacks, spare warm clothes, a torch, a communication device, and important medication.
DURING A FLOOD
Whether a flood begins slowly or arrives as an unexpected flash-flood, there are numerous things you can do to avoid being caught in the middle of fast-moving waters.
1. LISTEN TO EMERGENCY BROADCASTS
Whether through your local television or radio station, or any other means identified by your local authorities, listen for updates on a situation, and follow orders to evacuate should the need arise.
2. TURN OFF ELECTRICITY AND GAS
These flammable and dangerous elements can cause destruction or death when floodwaters hit, so turning them off at the source is necessary to minimise the chance of an explosion, fire or electrocution.
If conditions continue to worsen it is time to leave, whether ordered by authorities or not. If you are prepared you know where to go for higher ground, take your Grab Bag and head there until waters recede.
4. DON’T DRIVE OR WALK THROUGH FLOODWATERS
Floodwaters are often extremely powerful with invisible undercurrents, making it easy for people and vehicles to be washed away. Avoid crossing them at all costs, and if you are cut off then find the highest point and call for help.
AFTER A FLOOD
Never return to your home until a flood situation has completely subsided, and follow the directions of local authorities. When arriving home, go slowly and look around your property first without going straight inside your home. Check for damage to the structure of your house, and also to cables or pipes for electricity and gas. Once all is safe check again from the inside, and carefully begin to clean your home. Clean and dry everything properly, as such conditions are breeding grounds for waterborne disease.
Written by : Shintya Kurniawan, William Shea
Tsunami is one of the natural disasters that fall under the monitoring systems of the AHA Centre. The word is derived from Japanese tsu (harbour) and nami (wave). After previous editions delved into earthquake and volcano geophysical disasters, this month we focus towards tsunamis, which may be triggered by various geophysical phenomena, and can have devastating results for the region and its communities. We further explore the cause of these terrifying oceanic occurrences, and learn what to do when faced with the potential onset of such giant, destructive waves.
A tsunami is an ocean wave that is caused by water displacement, most often triggered by a geophysical event (earthquake, volcanic landslide etc.) taking place near or under the ocean. This water displacement results in the formation of large waves that then move quickly (up to 800 km per hours – the speed of an aeroplane) towards the coastline. Such waves can vary in size and strength – small enough to only register on specific monitoring instruments, or large and destructive such as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami – depending on a range of influencing factors. Tsunami events will normally consist of many waves with strong currents that surge inland from the coastline, picking up and destroying anything that stands in their way. Recent examples of their destructive force in ASEAN include the 1976 Mindanao Tsunami, the 1992 Flores Tsunami, the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, the 2006 Pangandaran Tsunami, the 2010 Mentawai Tsunami, the 2018 Central Sulawesi Tsunami, and the 2018 Sunda Strait Tsunami. ASEAN-ERAT responded to the 2010 Mentawai and 2018 Central Sulawesi tsunamis.
PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE
Tsunami monitoring and early-warning technology continues to improve and advance across the ASEAN region and the world, in-line with continuing technological advances overall. The AHA Centre, national disaster management organisations, national meteorological agencies, and a range of partners continue to develop, test and implement technology and procedures aimed to support communities and minimise loss as a result of tsunami events. Currently, ASEAN Member States are beneficiaries and active partners of both the Pacific Tsunami Warning System and Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System.
However, such events remain unpredictable, and can still evade even the most modern technology. Therefore, the importance of community (particularly coastal-based) understanding and preparedness remains key to surviving tsunami events. The following simple steps, if implemented by all communities, could have a significant impact on ensuring safety during a tsunami event:
1. KNOW YOUR SURROUNDINGS
2. ENGAGE WITH WARNING SYSTEMS
3. INITIATE OR PARTICIPATE IN TSUNAMI EVACUATION DRILLS
4. WHEN IT IS SAFE, EVACUATE IMMEDIATELY
TSUNAMI TRIGGERED EVENTS
The most common cause of tsunamis are earthquakes (usually underwater), with the shifting of tectonic plates under the sea causing the displacement of water that results in the giant waves. While such undersea earthquakes are taking place daily across the world, recent tsunamis have most often been caused by significantly large earthquakes that registered at relatively shallow depth and took place quite close to landmass. Certain types of earthquake can also contribute to tsunami occurrences, with different fault line movements (for example strike-slip or dip-slip) effecting the displacement of water within the localised ocean area. While often such earthquakes may be felt by communities before a tsunami arrives, at other times they are not, depending upon the location, size and depth of the preceding earthquake.
VOLCANIC ERUPTIONS AND LANDSLIDES
Although very rare, there have been cases of tsunami triggered by volcanic eruptions and landslides (either due to above or undersea displacement). In the ASEAN context, major historic magmatic eruptions of Mount Krakatau (Indonesia, 1883) and Mount Taal (the Philippines, 1965) triggered tsunamis that caused significant casualties. This was the scenario that occurred again on the 22nd of December 2018, which caught nearby populations completely off-guard. Mount Anak Krakatau’s eruption triggered a landslide of around 64 hectares, with the displaced water causing numerous tsunami waves that struck coastlines on both Java and Sumatra – the two islands that lie on either side of the Sunda Strait. Such events are much more difficult to monitor, and may go undetected, or barely register on monitoring technology – meaning the ensuing tsunami can catch many close-by communities unaware.
OTHER POTENTIAL CAUSES
METEOROLOGICAL-TSUNAMI caused by atmospheric disturbances.
METEOR ATTACK-TSUNAMI caused by the fall of large meteorites or asteroids in the oceans.
MAN-MADE EVENTS such as nuclear explosions.
Written by : Mizan Bisri, Will Shea
DECONSTRUCTING MYTHS ABOUT
There were many myths about natural disasters before science reached its current point, and also the possibility of misinterpreting science, and other elements surrounding a hazard or disaster. While some myths may be interesting and a great topic for dinner conversations, it is better for science to guide our actions when preparing for or experiencing a natural disaster. The following are a range of myths we often hear – particularly during times of heightened disaster activity – that have been comprehensively ‘busted’ by increases in human understanding and the science of natural disasters.
OPENING YOUR WINDOWS DURING A TYPHOON WILL STOP YOUR BUILDING FROM EXPLODING.
It was once widely believed that opening top windows in a home would release pressure during a typhoon, to ensure that a building would be safe from explosion due to high pressure build-up. However, with improvements to science and understanding of physics and engineering, it has been categorically found that this act does not support your home during a typhoon – in fact it adds to the likelihood of your roof being blown off due to wind entering your home and pushing upwards. This, alongside constant battering from the wind outside, would lift the roofs of houses making it look like they had exploded due to pressure from the inside. This myth is further from the truth due to the fact that houses are not airtight in their general state, have no vacuum, and therefore cannot form a pressure differential. In the face of a typhoon, it remains best to secure all windows and doors, turn off appliances and gas lines, and seek shelter a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level of your home if you have not been able to evacuate the area.
DOGS AND OTHER ANIMALS CAN “SENSE” WHEN AN EARTHQUAKE IS GOING TO STRIKE.
For centuries there have been stories and accounts of strange animal reactions in the lead-up to an earthquake, and while these are intriguing, there are no particular scientific links between an animal’s ‘sixth sense’ and an impending earthquake. There is room for thought on animals sending pre-shocks that preceded a larger quake, however this again is merely a concept for an interesting discussion or storytelling session. In reality, what animals sense, if they feel anything at all, remains a mystery. Earthquakes are a sudden phenomenon, and seismologists have no way of knowing exactly when or where the next one will strike. While there have been various research projects undertaken to link animal sensory behaviour with earthquakes, many outcomes are based on varying hypothesis, and also based on retrospection and memory after an earthquake event (due to the above fact that earthquakes are unpredictable). Overall, there is no strong evidence supporting this – and while this might be an interesting theory, it is still best to follow the warnings and guidance of your local disaster management authority and be prepared for an earthquake event at all times.
LOTS OF SMALLER EARTHQUAKES KEEP BIGGER ONES FROM HAPPENING.
It may feel that the onset of small earthquakes forms some sort of ‘tension release’, that ultimately decrease the size and scale of a larger earthquake – however this is untrue. Small quakes do in fact relieve stress on a fault line, but in reality it is way too little stress to decrease the likelihood of a larger quake. Earthquake monitoring shows that around a single 6M earthquake there can be hundreds, even thousands of smaller earthquake events (before and after a large event), however none of these serve to decrease the magnitude of the largest quake. In reality, these smaller quakes only serve to evidence that the fault line is in the midst of activity, and should make us consider our preparedness and readiness for the onset of a larger quake.
HOLDING ONTO A SOLID OBJECT WILL HELP YOU SURVIVE A TSUNAMI.
While there are some amazing stories of survival, the reality is that most people do not survive being swept away by a tsunami. The power, amount and height of the water surge is much too strong for most ‘immoveable’ objects, let alone for anyone unfortunate enough to be hanging onto them. The best way to avoid being caught by a tsunami is to be aware of your location, including tsunami evacuation routes, should a strong coastal earthquake occur. If this happens, follow the guidance of local authorities and evacuate if requested, and should you find yourself with limited time before the tsunami strikes, quickly find shelter on higher ground nearby.
YOU CAN OUTRUN A TORNADO IN A VEHICLE.
While some vehicles may have higher speeds than the average 60-120km/h winds created by tornadoes, you would have to be a very lucky person (or racing car driver) to outrun one in your vehicle. Tornadoes turn and flip vehicles with ease, ensuring that you and any passengers would be in the greatest of danger. Alongside the varying windspeeds, the idea also must factor-in changes in wind direction, as well as the array of obstacles and flying debris that would cross your path. Therefore, if you have not had the chance to evacuate from the path of a tornado, it is best to avoid windows and take shelter in a basement or a window-less middle room on the lowest level of a building.
IF ONE MOUNTAIN IS INCREASINGLY ACTIVE OR ERUPTS, IT WILL TRIGGER ERUPTIONS IN OTHER NEARBY VOLCANOES.
While many volcanoes may be situated along a single fault line that is experiencing increased activity, there is no link between a mountain’s eruption and the state of others nearby. In reality, each volcano has a ‘life of its own’, with its own characteristics, activity, pressure and release points, and therefore remain may erupt at any time in accordance with their own situations. The best way to face potential eruption is to develop your own preparedness plan under guidance of local authorities, who will also provide the most up-to-date information regarding the activity of your closest volcanoes.
A VOLCANO IS ‘DUE’ FOR A LARGE ERUPTION.
Often people feel as if the longer a mountain lies dormant, the likelihood of a larger eruption increases. This is perhaps based on the belief that pressure and magma is continuously growing within a mountain crater to the point of eruption, therefore the longer the wait, the larger the event. In reality, volcanoes have no eruption pattern or cycle – as stated previously, each mountain has a life of its own. Some volcanoes can lay dormant for centuries with only a small eruption as a result, whereas others may be continuously active with varying sizes of eruptions. Each mountain is defined by the variety of activities and elements within its design and its source of magma, completely under the guidance of the unique and unpredictable events happening deep below the earth’s surface.
LARGE AND HEAVY VEHICLES, SUCH AS SUVS AND PICKUPS, ARE SAFE TO DRIVE THROUGH FLOOD WATERS.
While simple physics may have us believe that the heavier the vehicle, the more likely one can drive through floodwaters, in reality this is not true – driving through floodwaters should be avoided at all costs. Strong floodwaters with underlying currents have been known to wash away objects much heavier than a truck, not to mention that vehicles are not secured or anchored to the road. While we may feel that the movement of our vehicle will allow us to pass through the water, it is easy for floodwaters to rise extremely quickly and drown an engine, rendering one stranded in the middle of fast-moving waters with no ability to find safety. If caught in rising floodwaters it remains the best option to seek higher ground, contact authorities, and wait for rescue or for the floodwaters to recede.
Written by : William Shea
SOUTHEAST ASIA’S LARGEST
It is well-known that ASEAN’s position on the renowned ‘Ring of Fire’, alongside other unique geographical elements, ensure it is one of the most vulnerable and heavily-affected natural disaster regions in the world. The following infographic takes a look back through some of ASEAN’s largest and most destructive natural disasters.
Mt. Tambora eruption, West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia.
Severe impact on global temperatures post-eruption, causing a drop by as much as 3°C.
Mt. Krakatoa eruption, located between the islands of Sumatera and Java, Indonesia.
Caused the deaths of over 36,000 people (approximately).
7.9M Earthquake in Moro Gulf, the Philippines.
Displaced around 40,000 families and caused more than 1,400 deaths.
Mt. Pinatubo eruption, the Philippines.
Approximately 200,000 people displaced.
Flooding in Cambodia.
Affected 20 out of 24 provinces with a total of 31,314 families displaced.
9M Earthquake and Tsunami, Indian Ocean.
Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia and other countries outside the ASEAN region were affected. Over 260,000 deaths and almost 2 million people displaced.
8.6M Earthquake, Nias island, Indonesia.
Caused 1,300 deaths.
6.4M Earthquake, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
5,700 dead and tens of thousands injured.
Southern Leyte mudslide, the Philippines.
Caused 1,126 deaths.
Cyclone Nargis, Myanmar.
Over 140,000 deaths and approximately 2.4 million people affected.
7.6M Earthquake in Padang, Indonesia.
Caused 1,115 deaths.
Tropical Storms Haima and Nok Ten, Lao PDR.
The first storm led to flooding in 12 out of 17 provinces, affecting 429,954 people nationwide.
South-east Asian Floods in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Viet Nam.
Almost 3,000 deaths, with millions of people affected by a range of flood events throughout the northern and southern regions of ASEAN.
Cyclone Bopha/Pablo, the Philippines.
Caused 1,900 deaths.
M6.7 Earthquake in Negros Occidental, the Philippines.
Over 6000 houses damaged.
Typhoon Haiyan/Super Typhoon Yolanda, the Philippines.
Led to approximately 6,300 casualties and over 4 million people displaced. The same typhoon also forcibly displaced about 900,000 people in Viet Nam.
Flash floods, Lao PDR.
Affected over 350,000 people nationwide.
Super Typhoon Mangkhut, the Philippines.
Affected over 2.6 million people nationwide.
7.5M Earthquake and Tsunami in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia.
Over 2,000 dead with over 1,200 still missing.
Information compiled from various sources including: ADINet, CFE-DMHA, PHIVOLCS, UNOCHA.
Written by : Valerie Bayhon, Shintya Kurniawan, William Shea
NATURAL DISASTER TYPES
Situated on the Ring of Fire, the ASEAN region faces one of the greatest threats of natural disaster due to geophysical activity along this active belt of tectonic plates. Following on from volcanoes in the last edition, another key disaster threat categorised into the geophysical type are earthquakes, as well as a range of related disasters that can occur as the result of earthquake activity. Earthquakes are another form of geophysical events that have triggered disasters in ASEAN during recent times. Therefore, understanding the varieties and impacts of earthquakes is important for disaster management across the region.
The AHA Centre receives ongoing information regarding earthquakes as they take place across the region. Considered relatively unpredictable, earthquake occurrences are therefore more often than not the focus of both response and preparedness activities for the AHA Centre team. As with volcanoes, Indonesia’s geographical location sees it experience earthquakes of various sizes on an almost daily basis, with their impact highly dependent upon a range of influencing factors such as force, depth, location and vicinity to human populations and infrastructure.
2018 has seen more than its fair share of significant earthquake events, particularly across Indonesia. A number of major earthquakes during August and September caused widespread death and damage on the island of Lombok and its surrounds, while most recently a 7.4M event shook central Sulawesi, causing not only extreme devastation from the earthquake itself, but a resulting tsunami that has affected millions of people. Other significant ASEAN earthquakes in recent times include:
7.2M quake that killed over 200 people in Bohol, the Philippines 2013;
6.9M earthquake that killed approximately 100 people in Myanmar, 2011;
7.6M earthquake that caused over 1,000 deaths in Padang, Indonesia 2009; and
9.1-9.3M earthquake (and resulting tsunami) with an epicentre off Aceh, Indonesia, that resulted in the loss of over 220,000 lives, and displaced millions across 14 countries, including Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar and Malaysia.
An earthquake, identified by a shaking of the earth, are most often caused by movement of geological fault lines (along the edges of the earth’s tectonic plates) – known as an inter-plate earthquake. The three main types of faults that can result in these earthquakes are known as ‘normal’, ‘reverse thrust’ and ‘strike-slip’ faults. The first two types of fault occur when two plates meet, resulting in movement that is vertical in nature (dip-slip movement). The third, strike-slip faults, are characterised by two plates meeting and sliding past each other horizontally. While most of the earthquakes we experience are related to these naturally occurring faults, earthquakes are also caused by other events such as volcanic activity, or human-induced occurrences such as mine blasts or nuclear testing.
The power of an earthquake is measured by the use of the Richter scale, most commonly used to describe the magnitude (for example 6M or 6MR) and impact of a quake. An earthquake’s impact and force will decrease further from its epicentre, and also depend upon the location and depth of the initial fault occurrence. In general, earthquakes felt with higher magnitude measurement will result in greater damage, with general guidelines shown below.
Aside from being powerful and deadly in themselves, earthquakes also lead to a range of other dangerous natural disasters. Well-known to the ASEAN region is the tsunami, which is caused by shallow earthquakes with an epicentre in the ocean, resulting in giant waves that make their way towards land. Alongside this, the shaking of the earth from a quake can cause landslides in hilly or mountainous regions, as well as phenomenon such as soil liquefaction, which was a major cause of death and destruction after the most recent earthquake in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia..
Written by : William Shea
TYPES OF NATURAL DISASTER
Situated on the Ring of Fire, the ASEAN region faces one of the greatest threats of natural disaster due to geophysical activity along this unstable belt of tectonic plates. One of the key disaster threats categorised into the geophysical type are volcanoes, as well as a range of related disasters that can occur as the result of volcanic activity. During 2018 ASEAN has experienced a range of geophysical events that have triggered disasters. Therefore, understanding the varieties and impacts of such occurrences is highly important for disaster management across the region.
The AHA Centre closely monitors the ongoing dynamic conditions of 150 volcanoes in the ASEAN region that are active and have a recent historical record of eruptions.127 of these volcanoes are located in Indonesia, with 23 in the Philippines, while volcanoes found in other areas of the region are currently dormant. Volcanoes in other ASEAN countries are in dormant condition, such as those in Viet Nam with its last eruptions dated back in the early Holocene era or underwater volcanoes in Andaman Sea between Thailand and Myanmar. Most recently in late 2017 to early 2018, monitoring, preparedness, and pre-emptive evacuations were undertaken by respective local and national agencies due to increased activities on Mount Agung (Bali, Indonesia) and Mount Mayon (Albay, the Philippines). However no lives were lost due to this increased activity. As of September 2018, only Mount Sinabung (North Sumatra, Indonesia) remains at Alert Level IV (out of the maximum 4 alert levels) – which means it may experience major eruptions at any point – with the level IV status ongoing throughout the past five years. Mount Agung remains at Alert Level III, while all other volcanoes in Indonesia and the Philippines are currently at Alert Level II (localised activity with no serious eruption risk).
A volcano is an opening in the Earth’s crust that allows molten rock, gases and debris to escape to the surface, often exploding through the surface with severe strength and impact on nearby geography. Volcano eruptions are categorised into geophysical hazards that occur when magma (molten rock) is released from a volcanic vent, with eruptions classified into a range of different types including phreatic, phreatomagmatic, surtseyan and effusive (lava-bearing) eruptions.
Most hazards, phenomena and disasters associated with volcanic eruptions affect areas close to the volcano itself. Of high importance is the realisation that volcanic activity may also trigger other natural disaster events, including tsunamis, landscape deformation, floods, and tremor-provoked landslides.
LINK TO EARTHQUAKES
Earthquakes and volcanoes are intrinsically linked, as they result from tectonic plate processes that constantly reshape the earth’s surface. Earthquakes form a key clue that a volcano is preparing to erupt, as the movement of magma exerts significant force on the earth above it as pushes through the crust. This pressure from the rising magma causes many of the earthquakes that occur in volcanically active areas. However, such earthquakes also rarely exceed magnitude 5, and are barely noticeable outside the vicinity of the volcano itself. Such earthquakes do help volcanologists to map and track underground lava flows, with different types of earthquakes often resulting based the signature of tremors, then used to determine if the volcano is heading towards an eruption. Seismic information such as this is valuable for volcanologists who are monitoring eruption events such as explosions or lahars.
Written by : William Shea
TYPES OF RECORDED DISASTERS IN
ASEAN MEMBER STATES
Since its foundation, the AHA Centre has actively monitored seven types of natural disasters that have occurred on a frequent basis across the Southeast Asian region. The natural disasters types that have registered on the AHA Centre’s radar include drought, earthquake, flood, wind, storm, volcano, and landslides.
Throughout the previous six years, a total of 1380 disasters have been recorded by the AHA Centre’s team. While floods, winds, storms, and landslides top the list for frequency, slower-onset disasters, such as drought, still pose significant risk, primarily for ASEAN’s agricultural-based communities.
The most recent recorded disasters have been the floods in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, and Viet Nam, that occurred due to the accumulated impact of the monsoon season and Tropical Storm 11 (Son-Tinh/ Henry). Between end of July and early August, the AHA Centre activated three emergency responses, responding to severe flooding in Southern Lao PDR and 4 states/regions of Myanmar, as well as powerful earthquakes in Lombok, Indonesia. The following chart may support further development of mitigation plans for disaster managers, as part of wider disaster-preparedness strategies.
Written by : Shintya Kurniawan
The presented information above is consolidated from the ASEAN Disaster Information Net (ADINet) and the Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT). Presented numbers may not reflect the actual risks due to lack of data availability in some ASEAN countries.
Due to its geographical location which is outside the ‘Pacific Rim of Fire’, Singapore is spared from natural disasters such as tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. However, Singapore cannot insulate itself from disaster prevention and management efforts as it is still susceptible to man-made disasters; which can be in the form of terror attacks or hazmat incidents. The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), under the command of Ministry of Home Affairs, is the National Authority that will coordinate, plan, command and control all operations undertaken by the various agencies to mitigate major disasters.
SINGAPORE’S CONTRIBUTION TO REGIONAL AND GLOBAL DISASTER MANAGEMENT EFFORTS
Due to the increased interconnectivity between the ASEAN Member States, the effects of a natural disaster on a particular Member State can also affect the entire ASEAN region. In this regard, Singapore is strongly
engaged not only in ASEAN but also on a global scale, and strive to be a leader in disaster preparedness and response practices.
Singapore is represented in the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) Advisory Board and the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) Steering Group, helping to shape strategies and policies for adoption globally by the disaster management fraternity. The 76-member SCDF Ops Lionheart team is the first team in the Asia-Pacific region to be classified as a “Heavy” Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team under the INSARAG External Classification (IEC) – the highest classification provided to USAR Teams by the United Nations. SCDF’s Ops Lionheart Contingent had been deployed to 17 overseas humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions and is constantly on standby to offer assistance to any country which has been struck by disasters such as earthquakes, floods or tsunamis.
Other than the SCDF’s Ops Lionheart Contingent, SCDF has a pool of trained officers on standby round the clock throughout the year, ready to be activated alongside international humanitarian partners in disaster coordination in the following capacities:
⋅ Active UNDAC members who have supported several overseas missions and exercises regularly;
⋅ One of the founding members of Asia-Pacific Humanitarian Partnership (APHP). SCDF has an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Support Module Team that can support the UNDAC operations at the disaster site with specified communications equipment and assist in establishing the On Site Operations Coordination Centre (OSOCC);
⋅ Specialised officers trained to form the Hazmat Assessment Unit (HAU) that respond to environmental emergencies in support of the UN Joint Environment Unit (UN-JEU); and
⋅ Operational officers trained as ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ASEAN-ERAT) that supports the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions that are coordinated by the AHA Centre.
Some of the recent major disasters which SCDF has provided support included the deployment of ASEAN-ERAT for the Aceh Earthquake in 2016, Ops Lionheart mission for the Nepal earthquake in 2015, responding to the Malaysian floods in 2014, the Christchurch earthquake in 2011, APHP support for Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 and UNDAC/APHP support for Typhoon Bopha in 2012.
Singapore has also played a key role in the ASEAN regional disaster management efforts. At the regional front, the SCDF serves as Singapore’s focal point for the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM), and a member of the Governing Board of the AHA Centre. Together with Indonesia, Philippines and the ASEAN Secretariat, Singapore was a member of the Task Force set up in 2009 for the establishment of the AHA Centre and played a pivotal role in the operationalisation of the Centre, particularly in the setup of its ICT infrastructure and systems. As co-chairs of two of the ACDM Working Groups; Preparedness and Response with Malaysia and Knowledge and Innovation Management with Indonesia and Viet Nam, Singapore through the SCDF drives several key initiatives under the AADMER Work Programme. This includes the development of ASEAN Standby Arrangements and Standard Operating Procedures, or SASOP, ASEAN Joint Disaster Response Plan, establishment of ASEAN-ERAT, Disaster Emergency Logistics Systems for ASEAN, and developing thought leadership in ASEAN through the hosting of the annual Strategic Policy Dialogue in Disaster Management and the Senior Executive Programme in Disaster Management.
Singapore is actively engaged in a range of disaster management activities and shares her best-in-class practices, systems and processes with the international community through overseas exchange programmes, rescue assistance, and the provision of a plethora of training courses in disaster management. Singapore’s Civil Defence Academy, established in March 1999, conducts a wide range of training for the international community. The Academy frequently leverages on technology and has incorporated the use of immersive virtual technology for decision making and command training. CDA’s flagship programmes include the International Firefighting, Hazardous Materials (HazMat) and USAR courses. Besides training the operational personnel and developing countries, CDA has also been training senior officials at the strategic-level and developed countries through the conduct of courses such as the Leadership Programme in Disaster Management and Disaster Risk Reduction and Response Course.
Written by : William Shea | Photo: SCDF
NATURAL DISASTERS IN SOUTHEAST ASIA
JULY 2012 – JUNE 2018
The AHA Centre has been monitoring disasters across ASEAN since its establishment in 2011. This month, we present a snapshot from consolidated data of recorded disasters that have taken place in the ASEAN region throughout the past six years.
As can be seen, the occurrence of disaster in Indonesia is extremely high, due much to its location on the ‘Ring of Fire’ – with its high tectonic activity – resulting in ongoing threats from earthquakes and volcanoes, alongside hydro-meteorological events such as flooding and landslides. Nations such as Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam have also experienced high numbers of disasters, often as a result of monsoonal seasons and heavy rainfall. Even for nations with lower numbers, the risk of disaster remains high. Due to ongoing optimisation of AHA Centre’s monitoring systems, as well as improving regional disaster classifications and reporting mechanisms, localised disasters may have previously been under-reported, with numbers for many nations potentially higher than displayed above. This highlights the importance of the AHA Centre’s existence, to support the skills development and increase capacity of Member States to prepare, monitor and respond to disasters of all varieties and at a world-class level.
Written by : Shintya Kurniawan, William Shea
The presented information above is consolidated from the ASEAN Disaster Information Net (ADINet) and the Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT).