PARIS : A decade after the strongest tsunami in living memory, 24 countries spanning from Australia to South Africa, including Pakistan, will take part in a UN-backed simulation exercise next week to test their capacity to forecast and tackle similar disasters. The exercise, organised by UNESCO, will simulate a 9.1-magnitude earthquake south of the Indonesian island of Java beginning September 9. A second 9.0-magnitude quake will be simulated at the Makran Trench south of Iran and Pakistan.

"Both scenarios will simulate tsunami waves travelling across the Indian Ocean," UNESCO said in a statement.

The test is designed to examine an Indian Ocean tsunami warning system put in place after the December 24, 2004 disaster which killed over 230,000 people, displaced more than one million people, and left a massive trail of destruction along the coasts of the affected countries.

It will check the efficiency of communication flows between the 24 countries, general readiness and the efficiency of emergency procedures.

Many of the countries involved will also stage evacuation exercises for coastal populations.

An evaluation will be conducted after the exercise to identify gaps and weaknesses in the system.

The participating countries are Australia, Bangladesh, Comoros, East Timor, the French overseas department of La Reunion, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand and Yemen.