Israel unveils tsunami warning signs

Defense Ministry begins placing 'Tsunami Hazard Zone' signs and emergency escape routes at Israeli beaches to prepare for the worst.

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Kobi Finkler,

Tsunami warning signs
Tsunami warning signs
Diana Hananshvili, Defense Ministry

The Defense Ministry's National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) on Wednesday morning unveiled new signs to be placed along Israeli beaches, warning the public against the danger of tsunamis.

"Tsunami Hazard Zone" read the yellow signs, which feature the symbol of a large incoming rolling wave.

By placing the signs, which soon are to be placed along the length of Israel's coast on the Mediterranean Sea, Israel will join a large number of countries that have prepared emergency tsunami escape routes to flee from beaches to secure areas.

Those other countries include the US, Italy, Japan, Thailand, Chile and more.

The first beaches chosen as a pilot for the project were Ashdod, the Ashdod port, and Ashkelon. Dozens of warning signs and directions along the length of the escape routes will be placed at the beaches.

There are four types of warning signs. One demarcates flood regions and is to be set along the length of the coast. This type of sign marks the start of the escape routes, and includes basic instructions for the public.

The second type directs the public to high ground so as to reach safety and will be placed along the route up until the secure region, while the third directs the public to safe regions inside a building. The fourth type marks safe areas outside regions with a flooding risk, but not necessarily on higher grounds.

NEMA director Betzalel Treiber explained that his organization "is experienced in preparing the civilian homefront and the operational emergency organizations for a wide range of emergency scenarios."

"The start of the pilot to place warning signs on the beaches, and the first safety drill that we will hold in early April, are the first step in a plan to prepare the population to defend itself from the scenario of a tsunami."

The Mediterranean Sea is a vulnerable regions for tsunamis. Around 25% of all recorded tsunamis in human history took place in the Mediterranean.

Every 100 years on average a significant tsunami takes place in the sea, and every 250 years on average a tsunami strikes the shoreline of Israel.

Warnings about a possible tsunami are received in Israel once every three months on average. The last such warning was received on April 15, 2015, due to an earthquake off Cyprus that measured 6.1 on the Richter scale. Another warning was received the day after, due to an earthquake near Crete of the same magnitude.