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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 August 2005, 10:34 GMT 11:34 UK
Tsunami alert system discussed
By Phil Mercer
BBC News, Sydney

Patricio Burnal, from the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), speaks during a tsunami detection meeting in Perth, 03 August 2005
Delegates are meeting to discuss how far the project has come
An international group working to set up a tsunami warning system for the Indian Ocean is meeting in Australia.

Representatives from more than 20 nations have gathered in Perth to discuss the technical and scientific requirements.

The group co-ordinating the project was set up in June by the United Nations.

The framework for the system is already in place, but the Perth meeting will find out how far the project has come and how much more needs to be done.

It will be a network of separate alert systems operated by individual countries including Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India.

They will be linked to each other through a regional centre which is yet to be established.

The backbone of this co-ordinated set-up will be an array of hi-tech wave, tide and pressure sensors.

They are already transmitting information about climate and other scientific data every hour or so.

Officials hope these gauges will be upgraded by the end of the year to form an interim warning system that can be fully operational by the middle of next year.

A major challenge will be ensuring that remote communities around the Indian Ocean are well-protected in the future.

Delegates in Perth will also hear reports of the progress of evacuation and emergency plans which governments around the region are putting into place to cope with future tsunami.

Last December's Asian tsunami killed more than 220,000 people and caused massive devastation.

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