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South China Sea Tsunami Advisory Center to open on Tuesday

The South China Sea region will have its own dedicated Tsunami Advisory Center, established in Beijing, under the aegis of UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), as of Tuesday. The Center will be inaugurated in the presence of Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary of the IOC, and Lin Shanqing, Member of the Party Committee of the Ministry of Natural Resources of China.

The South China Sea Tsunami Advisory Center will serve as a warning system for nine countries: Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam. The National Marine Forecast Center, part of the State Oceanic Administration of the People’s Republic of China, will be responsible for the operational implementation of the warning system, according to UNESCO.

It will rely on a seismic monitoring network based on seismic stations and tide gauges that will relay information in real time. Staff will receive specific training and a public awareness campaign, developed in partnership with the Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System in the Pacific and IOC, will be launched to warn people in the region about tsunami hazards.

The South China Sea region and its neighboring basins, including the Sulu and Sulawesi Seas, is one of the most vulnerable areas to earthquakes and tsunamis anywhere due to seismic activity in the Manila, Cotabato and Negros, and Sulawesi trenches. In 1976, an earthquake measuring 8.1 on the Richter scale caused a tsunami that struck the Gulf of Moro and the Celebes Sea killing more than 8,000 people.

In 2004, UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission urged the countries bordering the South China Sea to work closely together to address tsunami hazards and establish a regional warning system operating under the Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System in the Pacific, established by the IOC in 1965 in response to the deadly tsunami that struck the coasts of Chile and Japan in 1960.

Since 2005, the South China Sea region had been covered by the Tsunami Advisory Center for the Pacific Northwest, based in Japan, and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, based in Hawaii, USA.

In December 2017, at the initiative of the IOC, the United Nations proclaimed the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development so as to boost international cooperation in ocean sciences.

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