Thursday, March 11, 2010



count internet visits Service


Lets first understand, what is a disaster. Dictionary meaning of "disaster" may be taken as: "a sudden accident or natural event that causes great damage or loss of life" - Oxford Dictionary. So, as can be seen, disaster by definition itself is "sudden" and causes immense damage to property and/or life.

Disasters themselves are not limited to specific parts of world, though, certain areas might be more prone to certain specific type of disaster, e.g. area around Pacific rim is more prone to earthquakes, some countries are more prone to terrorist activities, some coastal areas are more prone to cyclones, and, some areas are more prone to floods. However, the more advanced a nation is, typically, their level of preparedness is higher. This higher level of preparedness allows them to have a better control over the loss.

There are certain types of disasters, where, the loss during the actual event is not necessarily as high, but, the losses become very high due to inability to manage the situation in a timely manner. More often than not, it happens due to confusion and chaos in the context of too much loss, and, inefficient utilization of resources - which are already strained.

Another thing which causes a lot of loss during certain kind of disasters is the inability to properly manage and secure the utilities, like: electricity, gas, water etc. On one side, each of these utilities are very important, and, on the other side, due to leakages/ruptures, some of these might come in contact with each other, when they should not - causing further damage.
Thus, the main motivation behind disaster management is to minimize the losses at the time of a disaster as well as ensure most efficient utilization of resources - which are already scarce.
Though, all kinds of disaster require more or less similar skill-sets and rescue-efforts at least a few days after the event, it is important to understand various kinds of disasters. Depending upon the actual nature of disaster, the immediate reaction needs to be different.
Also, the first few moments of disasters are distinctly different for each kind of disasters. Thus, understanding of each kind of disaster might also help in identifying the onset of a disastrous event, so that a trained person can undertake some key actions, during the initial few moments. This could have a major impact on the final outcome in terms of amount of final loss.
Five years have passed since the dreaded Indian Ocean Psunami,devastated our shores.still we recall with sorrow about our dead loved ones.Terrorism still haunts the world.
Carter defines disaster as an event,natural or manmade,sudden or progressive,with an impact of such severity that the affected community has to respond by taking exceptional measures or needs external assistance in becoming normal.

2.Disaster Types
General Preparedness
Nuclear Leaks
Chemical Leaks
Terrorist Activities
Structural Damage

Nature of Losses And Damages

The most common kinds of loss that are caused by an earthquake (depending on the severity) are:
Damage to structures
Causing partial or total collapse, damage to road and rail network, damage to utility carriers etc.

Sea activity
Water level in the sea could rise suddenly, causing very high waves, several meters in height, which could then flood the coastal areas. These could give rise to tsunamis, causing damage to coastal areas.

As earth shakes, in mountainous regions, huge chunks of land could fall/slide onto lower regions of the mountains. This could have several impacts, including:

changed topography, blocked roadways, damage to anything that comes in the way of the landslide, massive damage to the structure which sits on the piece of sliding land – and massing damage to the houses and roads where the piece of land finally lands. The landslide could also trigger another set of minor earthquakes.


Earthquakes are also characterized by aftershocks. After any major seismic activity below the earth, the new order might take a while to finally settle down. During this time, there might be some more activity below the earth (sort of “adjusting” of the new positions for the various plates, layers etc.) These activities result in several more earthquakes. These are called, “aftershocks”. Implications of Aftershocks

The implications of “aftershocks” are the following:
Structures which are not severely damaged during the main earthquake could now get damaged during one of the “aftershocks” – as they are getting continuously weakened by the earthquake and the “aftershocks”. further, causing these rescue teams themselves to become a victim. Besides, increasing the list of victims, it has two other major impacts: Loss of trained people and specialized equipments;

which in turn means significant impediment to the speed of further rescue Fear among rescue teams for their own lives – due to the possibility of an “aftershock” causes them to proceed with extreme caution; thus, they are not able to work to their fullest capability


Volcanoes refer to eruption of hot molten lava from below the surface of the earth. As plates move away from each other, at certain places, the surface might get stretched and thinner. In such a situation, the hot molten lava and gaseous substances below this thinned surface could open up a fissure and come out. Typically, these eruptions are always accompanied by discharge of huge amount of gaseous substances, which are various compounds of high toxicity. All eruptions (gaseous or liquid) from a volcano is at high temperature, and, the mouth of a volcano might look like, as if it’s spewing fire.
Besides, more often than not, volcanoes themselves might not cause any direct deaths, but, the post-volcanic complications cause more deaths. In such cases, the exact number of fatalities attributable to volcanoes can not be known for several years after the event.
So, effectively, a volcanic activity could cause damage and loss of life due to one or more of the following:
Contact with high temperature lava Earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides etc
Poisoning of air and water Change in radiation levels and or toxic levels,
impacting vegetation cover etc Post-activity starvation Diseases etc. due to lack of proper sanitation facilities in relief camps etc. in case large scale exodus is involved.

Tornadoes, Typhoons, Cyclones
These are winds of high-speed, many times accompanied by heavy rainfall. These cause structural damage, snapped overhead wires, and, possibility of floods. Because of damage to structure and overhead wires, utility services could be disrupted. Heavy rainfall could cause flooding also. Many times, these could last for a few days. In such cases, any restoration and relief activities can not even start till these few days when the activities start subsiding. The only thing good about these kinds of natural disasters is that they can be predicted to a reasonable degree - thanks to the advancement of metrological sciences. And, in most cases, its possible to get a warning of up to several days. Usually, it is possible to take at least some preventive measures - during these few days of warning. In most cases, the

preventive measure would include:

Moving into places which are safer, e.g. buildings which are structurally sound, and, are not prone to flooding Not venturing out to sea etc for sports, fishing etc.
However, in spite of these warnins, damage to property can not be mitigated much, as, immovable structures can not be relocated. Another important thing about these kinds of strong winds and rainfall is that they don’t appear totally at will. There are well-defined geographical areas, which tend to see incidents of typhoons and cyclones. This means that, people inhabiting these areas could take some fundamental care, while, building homes etc. These are:
Sturdy home, with very strong foundation and structure. Typically, most people build basements. These basements provide good shelter, and, storage space for food and
water to last for a few days for the entire household. Proper embankments to prevent flooding etc. Storage of cement-bags and plastic sheets to prepare additional embankments against flooding, if required. The people who suffer the most are poor people, because: they don’t have the means to build very strong houses, and hence, these houses get blown off/damaged they don’t have the means to buy and store food and provisions for several days, causing them to take risks of venturing out during heavy winds/rainfalls to make some money In coastal areas of poor country, fishermen have been known to venture out to sea, even during cyclones etc.

Fire is a very good servant, but, a very bad master. As long as fire is under our control, it serves a lot of useful purposes for us, but, once it goes out of our control, it can create a lot of destruction. However, despite the presence of fire safety measures, the occurrence of accidents is oftentimes inevitable. For this reason, a life insurance policy can be very valuable piece of document. It is this combination (of good servant and bad master), which is dangerous.


A tsunami is a series of water waves (called a tsunami wave train caused by the displacement of a large volume of a body of water, such as an ocean. The original Japanese term literally translates as "harbor wave." Tsunamis are a frequent occurrence in Japan;
As the tsunami approaches the coast and the waters become shallow, wave shoaling compresses the wave and its velocity slows below 80 kilometres per hour (50 mph). Its wavelength diminishes to less than 20 kilometres and its amplitude grows enormously, producing a distinctly visible wave. Since the wave still has such a long wavelength, the tsunami may take minutes to reach full height. Except for the very largest tsunamis, the approaching wave does not break (like a surf break), but rather appears like a fast moving tidal bore. Open bays and coastlines adjacent to very deep water may shape the tsunami further into a step-like wave with a steep-breaking front.

When the tsunami's wave peak reaches the shore, the resulting temporary rise in sea level is termed run up. Run up is measured in metres above a reference sea level. A large tsunami may feature multiple waves arriving over a period of hours, with significant time between the wave crests. The first wave to reach the shore may not have the highest run up.

If the first part of a tsunami to reach land is a trough called a drawback, rather than a wave crest. The water along the shoreline recedes dramatically, exposing normally submerged areas.
A drawback occurs because the tectonic plate on one side of the fault sinks suddenly during the earthquake, causing the overlaying water to propagate outwards with the trough of the wave at its front. This is also why that there would not be any drawback when the tsunami travelling on the other side arrives ashore, as the tectonic plate is "raised" on that side of the fault line.
Drawback begins before the wave arrives at an interval equal to half of the wave's period. If the slope of the coastal seabed is small, drawback can exceed hundreds of meters. People unaware of the danger sometimes remain near the shore to satisfy their curiosity or to collect fish from the exposed seabed. During the Indian Ocean tsunami, the sea withdrew and many people went onto the exposed sea bed to investigate.[citation needed] Photos show people walking on the normally submerged areas with the advancing wave in the background.[citation needed] Few survived.

Tsunami warning system
A tsunami warning system (TWS) is a system to detect tsunamis and issue warnings to prevent loss of life and property. It consists of two equally important components: a network of sensors to detect tsunamis and a communications infrastructure to issue timely alarms to permit evacuation of coastal areas.
There are two distinct types of tsunami warning systems: international and regional. Both depend on the fact that, while tsunamis travel at between 500 and 1,000 km/h (around 0.14 and 0.28 km/s) in open water, earthquakes can be detected almost at once as seismic waves travel with a typical speed of 4 km/s (around 14,400 km/h). This gives time for a possible tsunami forecast to be made and warnings to be issued to threatened areas, if warranted. Unfortunately, until a reliable model is able to predict which earthquakes will produce significant tsunamis, this approach will produce many more false alarms than verified warnings. In the correct operational paradigm, the seismic alerts are used to send out the watches and warnings. Then, data from observed sea level height (either shore-based tide gauges or DART buoys) are used to verify the existence of a tsunami.


1.Ministry of Diaster Management
2.Disaster Management Centre -National Centre
3.Povincial Centre-District Centre-Local Centres
4.Disaster management Team
5.Command and Control
6.Action Plan

1.Ministry of Diaster Management
This is the main planning and financing body.Minister has powers.

2.Disaster Management Centre -National Centre

Basic Facts

Geographic Coordinates 7 00 N, 81 00 E
Total Area Sq. Km 65,610
Coastline Km 1340
Lowest Elevation in Meters 0
Highest Elevation in Meters 2524
Percentage of Arable Land 13.96
Total Population 20,926,315
Annual Population Growth % 0.98
Total Literacy Rate % 90.7
Percentage of People Living in Urban Areas 30.9
GDP (Purchasing Power Parity) US$ 95.46
GDP Per Capita US$ 4700
GDP Growth rate % 7.4
BPL Population % 22

Main Natural Hazards
Tsunami, storm surge, flood, sea erosion, drought, landslide

The Ministry of Disaster Relief Services that was formed resulting from reformation of the cabinet, is located at 189, Galle Road, Colombo 03. Under the Gazette No. 1422/22, dated on 08th December 2005, the subject of Disaster consisting Preperation, Response and Recovery measures has been assigned to the new Ministry and also funds for these activities have been allocated to the Ministry, ensuring to handle pre and post disaster activities effectively.

The National Disaster Management Center
The National Disaster Management Center of the Ministry of Social Welfare and Widespread Disaster Unit of the Department of Social Services are now functioning under the purview of the new Ministry. An Emergency Operation unit will be established at the Ministry of providing efficient and immediate emergency services and coordinating the activities, during the Post Disaster period.

The functions assigned to the Ministry are given below for your information.

• Planning and Implementation Programmes to meet impact of Disasters

• Providing Response assistance to victims of Disasters

• Monitoring, Coordination and Evaluation the activities of disaster response and recovery with relevant authorities and parties concerned

• Implementation of Search and Rescue operations at Natural and Human made Disasters

• Implementation of Recovery Programmes to regain and re-establish live hood and economic activities disrupted by disasters

• Contribution to Sustainable Development Programmes of the affected areas through disaster response and recovery

• Conducting awareness programmes to making awareness Officials, General public and school children in relation to Hazards, Risk and Vulnerability of Disaster Management

• Planning and Implementation programmes of Risk Reduction

The following activities are planned to implement in 2006, achieving of Mahinda Chintana Programme.

• Examine and reorganizing existing Relief Assistance Programme to ensure for providing excelent services to disaster victims

• Setting up an Emergency Operation Unit at the Ministry

• Setting up Disaster Resource Centers to each Districts

• Implementation of Disaster Mitigation Programmes to reduce Risk and Vulnerability in disaster prone areas eg: Construction of rain water harvesting

• Mapping flood prone areas in the Kalutara District

• Establishment of Disaster Response Teams at the school level

• Setting up Disaster Management Coordinating Committees to each Divisional Secretariats

• Preperation of Divisional Level Disaster Response and Action Plan to each Divisional Secretariats

• Developing a web site and Disaster Information System to Sri Lanka

• Implementing an Income Generating Programme among Tsunami and War victims in the Batticola District

Emergency Management Phases
Emergency management activities can be grouped into five phases that are related by time and function to all types of emergencies and disasters. These phases are also related to each other, and each involves different types of skills.

Planning - Activities necessary to analyze and document the possibility of an emergency or disaster and the potential consequences or impacts on life, property, and the environment. This includes assessing the hazards, risks, mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery needs.

Mitigation - Activities that actually eliminate or reduce the probability of a disaster (for example, arms buildup to deter enemy attack, or legislation that requires stringent building codes in earthquake prone areas). It also includes long-term activities designed to reduce the effects of unavoidable disaster (for example, land use management, establishing comprehensive emergency management programs

Preparedness - Activities necessary to the extent that mitigation measures have not,or cannot, prevent disasters. In the preparedness phase, governments, organizations,and individuals develop plans to save lives and minimize disaster damage (for example, compiling state resource inventories, mounting training exercises, installing early warning systems, and preparing predetermined emergency response forces).Preparedness measures also seek to enhance disaster response operations (for example, by stockpiling vital food and medical supplies, through training exercises,and by mobilizing emergency response personnel on standby).

Response - Activities following an emergency or disaster. These activities aredesigned to provide emergency assistance for victims (for example, search andrescue, emergency shelter, medical care, and mass feeding). They also seek to stabilize the situation and reduce the probability of secondary damage (for example, shutting off contaminated water supply sources, and securing and patrolling areas prone to looting) and to speed recovery operations (for example, damage assessment).

Recovery - Activities necessary to return all systems to normal or better. They include two sets of activities: (1) short-term recovery activities return vital lifesupport systems to minimum operating standards (for example, cleanup, temporary housing, and access to food and water), and (2) long-term recovery activities may continue for a number of years after a disaster. Their purpose is to return life to normal or improved levels (for example, redevelopment loans, legal assistance, and community planning).

3.Povincial Centre-District Centre-Local Centres Action Plan
The command centres will be categorized as Bronze,Silver and Gold.This is based on the location of the centre.bronze-At the site.Silver-At the outer perimeter of
the disaster.No of these centres will vary with the severity of disaster.Gold-At a central location coordinating action plan.[Provincial/District]

Features of a centre
1.Free of disaster Threat
2.Easy access to disaster zone.
3.Adequate Fascilities.
Communication--Seperate Radio links
Media Briefing
Manned 24 Hrs a day.
Map of the area
Pre disaster preparation-Special Training of Equipment and Drills,Rehearsals
Good Leader

Coordinated Action Plan

Search and Rescue
Transport victims
Temporary Shelters and IDP care
Media Briefing
Managing Donations/Relief Aid
Relief Effort/Relief Staff
Food,Water Rest for staff
External Assisrance
[ Crowd Handling-Done by police or army/navy-
Cordination between Disaster Team/community/Local Health Care Staff
Prevent Chaos/Confusion
Stress Debriefing/Psychological support--[For victims and Disaster Team]

Golden Features of Disaster Management

Disaster Management involves multiple stake holders
All stake holders must be included.
Leadership/Deligation of responsibility at all levels.-Documented and agreed.
Coordination among all stake holders.
Disaster response plan-empiricallyin the pre disaster phase-documented.
Hazard,Vulnaerability and Risk mapping in the pre disaster phase.
Identification of the potential chaotic areas in response.
Drills and Rhearsals--
Identify critical control points,Coordination problems,Using emergency protocols in communication,transportation and crowd handling etc.

1.National Institute of Disaster Management-INDIA

2.International Federation of the Red Cross
3.Disasters and Emergencies:
4.Federal Emergency Management Agency
5.US Agency for international developement