J. Luis Alvarez
Tuesday, 2 May 2023, 10:30
Coastal residents in the Andalusian provinces of Cadiz and Huelva have been surprised at the installation of tsunami evacuation route signs along its beaches.
The initiative sponsored by the Ministry of the Interior was part of the State Tsunami Plan approved in 2021 by the government, where the Directorate General for Civil Protection and Emergencies implemented a new guide for evacuation routes in such cases.
While the installation of the signs may come as a surprise, there is no denying the risk of a tsunami in the 'tacita de plata' (little silver cup), the nickname by which Cadiz and its splendid bay are known. The coasts from there to the southern half of Portugal were devastated in 1755 by giant waves caused by an earthquake that destroyed Lisbon. On 1 November a wave between ten and fifteen metres high swept the coastline. In the city of Cadiz alone, 2,200 people died.
It was caused by the Lisbon earthquake, which may have been one of the largest ever measuring 9.5 on the Ritcher scale. It killed around 90,000 people in the Portuguese capital, where buildings collapsed and were engulfed in flames.
There were no tsunami warnings 250 years ago and those who were engulfed by the water had no way of knowing where to go once the huge wave came in. With an earthquake warning like nowadays, they would have had about sixty minutes to evacuate the area.
The new tsunami signs have created a mix reaction among the public. Some are both surprised and worried, while others are seeing the funnier side.
Social media is ablaze with jokes about the topic, with residents in Huelva saying: "we are going to have wholesale seafood available in the streets". A 'ticktocker' resident of the Isla Chica district in Huelva said: "People of Huelva, from now on we'll be swimming around the neighbourhood". Others quipped that Seville would finally get its beach.
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