Since 1498 there have been at least 94 tsunamis with run-ups reported in the Caribbean
region, causing 4,652 deaths, Watson-Wright said.
She said most of these tsunamis were associated with underwater, or what are called submarine earthquakes, although the Caribbean Sea region has all of the potential tsunami-generating sources, such as submarine earthquakes, sub-aerial or submarine landslides and volcano activity.
Scientists and disaster management officials have said that models predict a tsunami wiping out vast areas in several island nations where most people live in around capitals and low-lying coastal areas.
“Sound science-based tsunami inundation modelling has been performed for all of Puerto Rico and several localities in the French Antilles and Venezuela, which demonstrates real tsunami threats for this region,” the UNESCO expert said.
She said the Indian Ocean Tsunami Early Warning System — coordinated through UNESCO-IOC — saved lives in that region following an 8.6-magnitude earthquake off northern Indonesia.
“Largely due to education programmes, Indonesians living in coastal communities were able to mobilise and safely move to higher ground. As soon as the threat of a tsunami had passed, the all clear was sounded,” Watson-Wright said in a statement here.
Despite the withdrawal of the United States from the UN body, which threatened to delay the introduction of an early warning system for the Caribbean, “emergency funds” were diverted to the project which is expected to be completed by 2014.