The Mediterranean region – particularly around Greece – could be hit by a major tsunami before the end of the century, an Athens-based scientist claimed yesterday. Booming tourism in the area would mean the consequences of such a tsunami would be «dramatic» unless authorities are well prepared, according to Gerasimos Papadopoulos, director of research at the Athens Geodynamic Institute. «We need to aspire to the preparedness level of the US West Coast or Japan,» Papadopoulos told The Associated Press. A tsunami near the Greek coast would probably not be as strong as the one that devastated southeastern Asia in December 2004 but it would travel very quickly and hit land «in under an hour,» Papadopoulos said. According to data presented at a European Conference on Earthquake Engineering in Geneva this week, a major tsunami hits the Mediterranean every 136 years. The last one hit the southern Aegean in 1956, killing four people.