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Cuba to conduct anti-disaster drill

05-06-2012 12:04 BJT

HAVANA, May 5 (Xinhua) -- Cuban authorities are preparing to conduct a nationwide anti-disaster drill aimed at taking stock of existing measures and heightening disaster awareness among the population, officials said Saturday.

The May 19-20 drill, the 26th of its kind and code-named Meteoro 2012, will help to train people how to respond in case of such disasters as hurricanes, earthquakes, drought, forest fires and exotic diseases, officials said.

The exercise aims to raise the country's disaster preparedness and review the measures set for state agencies and institutions to cope with natural and industrial disasters, said Colonel Miguel Angel Puig, chief of the Operations Department of Cuba's National Civil Defense.

Puig said the drill would be focused on reassessing the measures to protect human lives and key economic targets in case of different kinds of disasters.

The maneuvers will also include assessing the evacuation processes of the population in areas susceptible to quakes or tsunamis, he said.

Puig stressed that Cuba's civil defense system is based on serious and complex risk studies on the threats for the Caribbean island country, which is prone to frequent hurricanes and to earthquakes in its eastern provinces, and suffers from the impact of climate change.

The drill is also designed, for the first time since the establishment of the country's civil defense system some 50 years ago, to protect the private business emerging on the island, as the government led by President Raul Castro is carrying out economic reforms in an effort to "update" the country's socialist model and stave off the impact of a serious crisis affecting the country after 1990.

Cuba's Meteoro anti-disaster national exercise was launched in 1986, after Hurricane Kate hit the island in November 1985, causing serious economic losses.

Experts, who gathered for a meeting in Havana last month, said the island and its Caribbean neighbors should be prepared for more intense hurricanes and droughts as consequences of climate change.

Specialists from the Intergovernmental Experts Group for Climate Change, founded in Geneva in 1988, warned that the Caribbean economies would suffer more due to the increasingly intense and frequent climate events.

"Cuba is considering a program to study and assess the local hazard vulnerability and the risk of natural disasters," said Gisela Alonso, president of the National Environment Agency.

"Many of the results of these studies are incorporated not only into the plans for confronting disasters, but also into the new economic investments planned in the deemed vulnerable areas in the country," the expert said.

Cuba's civil defense system has updated its preparedness in recent years in the event of earthquakes and tsunamis, after a devastating quake hit Haiti in January 2010.

Authorities have also worked out contingency plans for oil spills, after the explosion on a BP oil rig in 2010 in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

The Cuban civil defense authorities will hold an international seminar on May 18-20 for summing up and sharing of its 50 years of experience.

 

Editor:Bai Yang |Source: Xinhua

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