PANAMA, July 24th, 2014.

Mr. Arnulfo Sánchez, Chief of the Environmental Unit of the Panama Maritime Authority (PMA) pointed that “Panama requires an adequate coordination and preparation in case of a tsunami.” Mr. Sánchez is also vice-chairman of the Intergubernamental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

His remarks were uttered in the context of a formal visit made to Mr. Mario Chan, Deputy Director of the National System of Civil Protection (SINAPROC – of his Spanish acronym).

We need to make proper coordination with the various involved entities that would be summoned in case a tsunami took place in the country, in order to implement effective preventive measures; we need to establish a guide of coordinated procedures that enable the dissemination of alerts, perform an adequate management of crisis situations, ensuring a quick and efficient response from the authorities.

Assessing the risk of a tsunami involves considering the degree of vulnerability of coastal communities, the probability of the occurrence of a tsunami must be identified on the basis of the known possible causes and through a review of historical data. Moreover, in order to calculate this vulnerability, the pre-existing physical, social, economic and environmental conditions that determine the susceptibility of an area to endure damages or losses must also be identified. This information is essential in order to determine the management strategies to face disasters.

On his behalf, Mr. Mario Chan, SINAPROC’s Deputy Director, added that SINAPROC will support any meeting that will be held in order to assess the risks in case of an event of this nature.

Sánchez finally concluded: “The previous meetings that we have held have been very profitable, we have held conversations with colonel Pablo Tuñón, General Director of the meritorious Fire Brigades of the Republic, with Mr. Steven Paton and Mr. Sergio Dos Santos, staff members of the Physical Survey Program from the STRI (Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute), with the Panama Maritime Authority, and with the Hydrometeorology Unit from the Electric Energy Transmission Company (ETESA of its Spanish acronym). We are convinced that the current administration will take the risk prevention on the issue of tsunamis as a matter of State, since all this is for the sake of the country.”

The AMP’s new administration, led by Mr. Jorge Barakat, will pay particular attention to this topic, being the lead entity in the national maritime activity.