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Disaster mitigation drill held in W. Sumatra

Around 2,100 delegates from 18 countries and international organizations are attending a joint disaster mitigation exercise, called the Mentawai Megathrust Direx Exercise (MMDirex), hosted by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) in Padang and Mentawai Island, West Sumatra, from March 17 to 23.

Among the countries participating in the event are Australia, Brunei Darussalam, India, Japan, Malaysia, Russia, the United States, and Vietnam. Representatives from the World Food Program (WFP), the Pacific Disaster Center (PDC) and the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) are also joining the training.

The BNPB’s construction and rehabilitation deputy, Bernadus Wisnu Widjaja, said the joint exercise was aimed at preparing a master plan to strengthen coordination, collaboration and international communication to handle earthquakes and tsunamis.

“The objective is to better anticipate powerful quakes, like the 8.5-magnitude quake that struck Simeulue Island in Aceh in April 2012 or the 2004 Aceh tsunami,” Bernadus said. As many as 2,925 residents in Padang and Mentawai were also taking part in the exercise, BNPB chief secretary Fatchul Hadi added.