At the end of a days-long national earthquake and tsunami exercise, Home Front Defense Minister Avi Dichter said that a real disaster would kill thousands and cost the state NIS 150 billion (some $40 billion) in recovery operations.

Speaking at a meeting of the National Economic Forum on Thursday that convened as part of an exercise, named Turning Point 6, to test the country’s readiness for a natural disaster, Dichter expounded on the potential enormous cost of an earthquake and tsunami.

“The cost of the damage to the state and its citizens following an earthquake and a tsunami will be NIS 150-200 billion,” Dichter said. “We are talking about an unprecedented event, with thousands killed.”

Dichter stressed that it was critical that the financial infrastructure continue to function following a disaster in order to facilitate foreign aid and recovery efforts.

Israel Radio reported that Dichter observed first-hand one of the Home Front Command exercises and said that during the course of the national drill, that began on Sunday, emergency units only managed to reach 20 percent of the staged disaster areas. Dichter warned that in the event of a disaster on a national scale, the state must avoid appearing weak in the eyes of its enemies.