Asia starts work to detect next tsunami

Asian countries have begun work on an early warning system to prevent a repeat of the devastation wreaked by last week's tsunami, as the global death toll stands at over 144,000.

    The disaster has left death and despair in its trail

    "With other countries, we are currently developing an early warning system for natural disasters and tsunamis," Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said on Monday.

    Having taken the worst pounding, Jakarta confirmed 14,000 more deaths on Monday to take its own toll to 94,081, with entire coastal villages disappearing under the wall of water.

    Susilo said he had summoned Indonesia's state Agency for Research and Application of Technology, the Meteorology and Geophysics' Office and other related institutions to work on the mechanism.

    "With other countries, we are currently developing an early warning system for natural disasters and tsunamis"

    Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono

    "This is also to prevent massive loss of life and to handle future earthquakes and natural disasters as well as to take preventative action," he said.

    Experts say a tsunami warning system to match one in place in countries bordering the Pacific Ocean, could have saved many lives lost on shorelines around the Indian Ocean. 

    Huge threat

    Susilo said natural disasters ranked along with terrorism
    and communal conflicts as continuing threats to his nation in 2005.

    Indonesia has suffered several major attacks linked to al-Qaida affiliated groups in the past few years.

    "Terrorism continues to be a threat and the government will take steps to deal with terrorism," Susilo said without elaborating.

    Susilo (L): Natural disasters rank
    with terrorism as biggest threats

    He added: "Horizontal (communal) conflict and the threat of natural disaster also remains." 

    On Sunday, Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda said an emergency summit of regional and world leaders in Jakarta on Thursday would also look at setting up an Indian Ocean warning system and post-disaster strategies.

    Toll still climbing

    Jakarta's health ministry officials have warned the total number of people who perished in the country could climb further, touching 100,000.

    In Sri Lanka, 29,957 were confirmed killed by the tidal waves, the president's office said. Another 5740 are listed as missing, 16,665 have been injured and 861,016 have been displaced.

    The official toll in India has also risen, to 14,962, including 5511 people the government says are missing and presumed dead.

    In Thailand, interior ministry figures put the toll at 5046, almost half of them foreign holidaymakers. A further

    3810 are missing and presumed dead and 8457 have been injured.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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