Pakistan has 1050 km of coastline, 350 km in Sindh and 700 km in Baluchistan. Makran ranges cover a vast area that is about 400 km long and 250 km wide. A dangerous Subduction region is located about 100 km away from Makran coast that can be a cause of tsunami. Studies suggest that in case of tsunami generated by an earthquake along the Makran Subduction Zone, Pasni, Ormara and Gawadar are the areas in most danger while Karachi is having least danger of such a disaster. History of tsunami as well as the bathymetry of this region also supports this argument. Indus River delta can also take a crucial part in tsunami, because an earthquake with even a weaker magnitude can trigger a submarine landslide in these sediments causing tsunami or effect of an earthquake triggered tsunami can be amplified by the consequent submarine landslide in these sediments. A tsunami disaster occurred in November 1945 at Makran coast in Balochistan Province. It produced sea waves of 12-15 meters’ height that killed about 4,000 people. Although Karachi was away from the epicenter, but still it experienced 6 feet high sea waves which affected harbor facilities. This happened during the months of March, April and May.
The effects of tsunami of December, 2004 were also felt along the Pakistan coastline. Abnormal rise in water detected by tide gauge station at Keti Bander area created panic in the coastal population including Karachi.
Tsunami being a less frequent hazard has not yet gained due attention in the national hazard mitigation and preparedness program within Pakistan. However, disastrous impacts of 1945 Makran Tsunami, which occurred in the Arabian Sea merely 70 years ago, cannot be ignored and urge need of comprehensive and sustained tsunami resilience efforts. In recent decades, 2004 Indian Ocean and 2011 Japan Tsunamis have revealed destructing powers of tsunami and the level of unpreparedness with regard to hazard assessment, warning and response planning, public awareness, mitigation, and research, not only of developing but developed countries as well. Tsunami originating from a local source can arrive at Pakistan coastline within minutes. In the absence of a comprehensive and well-coordinated management plan, the fast-approaching tsunami might wreak havoc on the coast. To combat such a threat, a wide range of short- and long-term mitigation measures are needed to be taken by several government and private sector organizations as well as security agencies.
- Develop standardized and coordinated tsunami hazard and risk assessments for all coastal regions of Sindh and Baluchistan provinces.
- Improve tsunami and seismic sensor data, infrastructure, and standard operating procedures (SOPs) for better tsunami detection and warning.
- Enhance tsunami forecast and warning dissemination capability along the coastline.
- Promote the development of model mitigation measures, and encourage communities to adopt resilient construction, critical facilities protection, and land-use planning practices to reduce the impact of future tsunamis.
- Increase outreach to all communities, including all demographics of the at-risk population, to raise awareness, improve preparedness, and encourage the development of tsunami response plans.
- Develop a strategic plan for earthquake- and tsunami-related research especially within Arabian Sea region.