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Last Updated: Friday, 5 August 2005, 17:38 GMT 18:38 UK
Green light for tsunami sensors
An Indian fisherman in Tamil Nadu
The warning system could save thousands of lives
Indian Ocean countries meeting in Australia have decided to set up a network of seabed sensors and buoys as part of a tsunami warning system.

The sensors are sensitive enough to detect the slightest changes in water column pressure. They will transmit information to sea-level buoys.

The meeting in Perth was attended by representatives of 27 Indian Ocean countries at risk from tsunamis.

Last December's tsunami is believed to have killed more than 220,000 people.

The warning system could be fully operational by summer 2006, but a couple of dozen buoys should be in place by December this year.

"The establishment of seismic and sea-level networks for the Indian Ocean and an agreement on how to deploy those, I believe, is a significant step forward," Neville Smith, vice-chairman of Unesco's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), said.


The three-day forum, which ended on Friday, also agreed that seven warning centres would be created instead of one, as initially proposed.

Competition to host a single centre, which would have brought prestige and international funding to the country that hosted it, was fierce.

It was therefore decided the centres would be based in Australia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand - plus Iran and Pakistan.

This is because scientists believe that a fault line in the Arabian Sea might trigger a huge tsunami there.

There is now concern that seven separate centres sending advisories to national warning centres in 25 countries might generate confusion.

"A major issue to be addressed is the protocol to be adopted to co-ordinate the multiple advisories to avoid confusion in the receiving nations," a working paper issued at the meeting warned.

The system is being established with the backing of Unesco, which formally set up the Intergovernmental Co-ordination Group for the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (ICG) in June this year.

Tsunami alert system discussed
03 Aug 05 |  Asia-Pacific

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