• Tsunamis have a very low probability of occurring – areas threatened most are in the south of Spain

By Andrew Atkinson

Remembrance of the shocking 6.6 Richter scale earthquake on March 21, 1829, in Torrevieja – that also hit Guardamar and Almoradi leaving 386 people dead – is an indelible memory etched within Spain.

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Now a warning has been flagged up that a Tsunami could occur – made by natural disasters expert Ignacio Aguirre, at a conference in Cantabria.

“Faced with the brutal devastating capacity of Tsunamis, there must be preparation strategies, before they occur.

“We must have a knowledge of the real risk that exists. We must map the areas at most risk – and instruct those in power and society in general – so that they are aware, and can save lives.

“Knowledge is very important. There are two fundamental strategies in the case of Tsunamis,” said Ignacio Aguirre, researcher from the Cantabria Institute of Environmental Hydraulics.

  1. The planning of the evacuation prior to its occurrence, which requires risk analysis and mapping.
  2. Early warning systems, with protocols, ensuring the information of these alerts reaches the population.

Southern Spain and the eastern Mediterranean – Balearics – regularly have seismic activity, although relatively low Richter scale readings.

Natural disasters occurred in 1755, 1969 and 2003, the latter in the Balearic Islands.

An earthquake measuring 8.5 on the Richter scale hit Portugal, in 1755, setting off Tsunamis in 12 countries, with 50,000 fatalities.

A tsunami warning centre, the National Geographic Institute, Spain, issues alerts to the General Directorate of Civil Protection and Emergencies.

In 2004 a Tsunami hit Indonesia, leading to working groups being established.

An early warning system of the Indian Ocean, Caribbean Ocean and Atlantic Northwest and Mediterranean Ocean, was formed.

A system in place, which includes Spain: “Luckily, the Tsunamis have a very low probability of occurring – but – unfortunately, we do not put the necessary attention in the areas that are threatened most, such as the south of Spain,” said Ignacio Aguirre.

In 1829 the 6.6 Richter scale magnitude earthquake in Torrevieja saw houses, with no foundations, and poorly supported wooden beams, demolished. Guardamar Town had to be re-designed. The town that suffered most was Almoradi. In total 2,965 houses were destroyed and 2,396 houses were left unsafe, in the tragic earthquake.  386 people died and 375 were left injured.

A Memorial service is held annually in Almoradi, with inhabitants accompanying San Emigdio – the Patron Saint for earthquakes – to pray, in the everlasting memory of the victims.

A 3.6 magnitude earthquake in August, 2008, occurred within the Vega Baja that led to taking San Emigdio out onto the streets.

San Emigdio was accompanied by thousands of people from within the region.

  • Image: Almoradi remembering the people who died in the 1829 earthquake and asking that San Emigdio protects the region.