Escape to higher ground: An innovative solution to save lives in Indonesia

Swiss Re partners with GeoHazard International to save lives in Padang, Indonesia, one of the world's most high-risk areas for tsunamis, through a 'Tsunami Evacuation Raised Earth Park.'

Padang, Indonesia is one of the world's most high risk areas for tsunamis. The 7.6 magnitude earthquake that struck Padang on 30 September 2009, and the resulting tsunami alert, confirmed the critical need for a tsunami evacuation infrastructure when many buildings previously identified as satisfactory evacuation structures collapsed.

If a tsunami were to occur today, as many as 100,000 people might perish. And there is a high likelihood that a tsunami will occur within the lifetime of the current residents of Padang.

This was the catalyst for the project of a "Tsunami Evacuation Raised Earth Park,” or TEREP, by GeoHazards International (GHI). Swiss Re is funding the design of this innovative, easily replicable and cost-efficient solution to save lives in Padang.

The idea is simple: in the event of a tsunami, escape to higher ground. Working in collaboration with GHI, Swiss Re is funding the design of a prototype for vertical evacuation i.e. the TEREP. It will be an artificial “hill” built within the city of Padang, at a height greater than an average tsunami. Residents can evacuate to the top of the hill rather than seek shelter in earthquake-damaged buildings in the moments after an earthquake, which could be followed by a tsunami, has struck. The TEREP would remain open at all times to the community and serve multiple purposes, such as a gathering spot or a playground, between potentially catastrophic events.

Construction is planned for 2011.

Published 8 November 2010

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