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Okinawa unveils color signs for quake, tsunami sea alerts

Date Posted: 2011-12-02

Spurred by the disastrous Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami, Okinawa officials have created new warning signs and signals to protect residents in the event of an earthquake or tsunami.

New sea level indicators have been designed to standardize the haphazard system that’s been in place across Okinawa’s cities, towns and villages for years. Now, red color warning signs will be displayed at locations that are under five meters above the sea level, yellow signs will be posted where the elevation is 6-19 meters, and blue color indicators will be displayed where land is more than 20 meters above the sea level.

The Okinawa Earthquake and Tsunami Examination Committee has also established new guidelines to go with the zoning to alert residents what to do when an alert is announced. In blue color designated areas residents are advised to “Escape in Keeping with Necessity”, while in a yellow color area they are told to “Escape when warning signals or advisories are announced.” A red color zone is for dire circumstances, telling people to “Escape Immediately”.

Also new will be signs that show buildings that have been designated as tsunami shelters or buildings, which must be evacuated in the case of a tsunami. The new sense of urgency on Okinawa’s part came in the wake of the March 11th disaster, in which tens of thousands were killed or are missing, many thousands more displaced, and damage estimated in the billions of yen.

Okinawa officials say the zoning colors will be displayed on utility poles, public facilities, and private buildings. More details will be provided in low lying areas. The new signs will begin showing up in December.

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