Germany offers tsunami alert system

Germany said it has agreed to help Indonesia set up an early warning system against tsunamis such as the 26 December Indian Ocean wave that killed nearly 300,000 people.

    The system can deliver warnings over the internet

    Research Minister Edelgard Bulmahn signed an agreement with her Indonesian counterpart Kusmayanto Kadiman in Jakarta on Monday to provide a $58 million system developed by the Geoscientific Research Institute (GFZ) at Potsdam near Berlin, the ministry said in a statement.

    Sri Lanka and other neighbouring countries have also expressed interest in the technology, which measures shocks and provides real-time warnings of undersea earthquakes as they occur, the ministry said.

    Once the system is in place, a warning would be posted on the internet in the event of an earthquake and emails and SMS text messages sent automatically to regional data stations.

    Private individuals and hotels as well as institutions and media organisations may join the network, which will be part of a United Nations-sponsored system across the region.

    Early warning

    The data system will be complemented by training programmes for local officials and residents in coastal areas.

    The warning system should be in
    place in one to three years

    "It is now important that the early warning technology is taken up by people on the spot," Bulmahn said in the statement.

    Germany was among the biggest western aid donors in the weeks after coastal areas throughout the region were devastated by huge waves unleashed by an undersea earthquake off the Indonesian coast on 26 December, 2004.

    The Foreign Ministry in Berlin said 227 German victims of the tsunami had been identified so far, while a further 428 people believed to have been in the region at the time of the catastrophe were still unaccounted for.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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