Tsunami risk reduction for densely populated Southeast Asian cities : analysis of vehicular and pedestrian evacuation for the city of Padang, Indonesia, and assessment of interventions
Di Mauro, Manuela
Date of Issue2013
School of Civil and Environmental Engineering
A major tsunamigenic earthquake is expected in the near future along the coast of West Sumatra Province of Indonesia. In the city of Padang, the arrival time of the tsunami is expected to be ~30 min. Currently, there are approximately 400,000 people in the city living within the potential inundation zone. This study aimed to complement the existing research in appraising possible risk reduction interventions, specifically looking at enabling the timely evacuation of the area. This research, developed in consultation with national and local authorities, emergency planners and NGOs, analysed interventions for tsunami risk reduction in Padang through the development of a pedestrian and vehicular evacuation model and the appraisal of possible solutions to enhance the evacuation rates. Some of the conclusions from this research can be applied to other areas in Southeast Asia where the traffic patterns are similar to those in Padang and where the distance to safety is greater than 4–5 km. For the case of Padang, the results show that pedestrian evacuation is strongly preferable to vehicular evacuation due to the limited road capacity and the high population density. In the present situation, however, 70–80 % of the population in Padang could not evacuate within 30 min, even by foot. Common interventions such as widening roads and building bridges prove to be relatively ineffective in this case due to the large distance that has to be covered in a short time. These interventions would only have a decisive impact if a longer evacuation time was available (more than 60 min). In the case of Padang, the evacuation rate in the first 30 min is strongly dependent on the presence/absence of evacuation shelters, whose effectiveness is limited by the capacity of the structures. Building a few high-capacity and high-resilience structures such as evacuation hills is a more effective and robust evacuation strategy than constructing many small high-raised buildings. Even with evacuation structures, wider roads and bridges, about 20 % of the population would still be unable to reach safety by the time the tsunami arrives. This means about 70,000 people of Padang’s current population, which is rapidly increasing. The building of evacuation shelters may be a viable option for saving lives in the short term, but it is not a sustainable option in the medium to long term. It is therefore also necessary to set up and enforce regulations for land use planning that take into account the tsunami risk and prevent further urban development for the areas that may be affected by a tsunami.