Saturday, November 22, 2008

Indonesia launches new early warning tsunami system

JAKARTA-Indonesia launched a new hi-tech system Tuesday aimed at detecting a potential tsunami and providing faster alerts in a region battered by frequent earthquakes.The sprawling archipelago of some 17,000 islands, which lies in the seismically-active "Pacific Ring of Fire," was hit by a devastating tsunami about four years ago that left an estimated 170,000 people dead or missing in Aceh province.Since then, Indonesia has installed some warning systems, but experts have said the country's disaster preparedness is still a work in progress and large parts of the country are still not covered.The new system, built with assistance from foreign bodies including the German Research Center for Geosciences, will use sensors placed on the seabed and shore to relay details of seismic movements to buoys on the surface.The information is then transmitted via satellite to a tsunami early warning center in Indonesia."We are starting the world's most advanced tsunami early warning system able to issue the quickest possible warnings with a high degree of reliability," Thomas Rachel, Germany's parliamentary state secretary, said at the launch in Jakarta.The system will be fully operational by 2010.Since the 2004 tsunami, Indian Ocean countries have installed expensive warning systems and stage periodic evacuation drills to prepare better for another such disaster.Indonesia's early warning system has two out of a total of 10 buoys in place and another four buoys will be installed soon to optimize the system, scientists said.The government aims to deliver tsunami alerts within five minutes of an undersea quake, but experts have said that cannot be achieved until Indonesia has installed at least 22 buoys, 120 tide gauges with digital recordings, and 160 seismographs."This tsunami early warning system signifies our progress and readiness in efforts to prevent or at least reduce the effects of earthquakes and tsunamis which can happen anytime and anywhere," President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said at the launch.

As in the days of Noah....

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