Sunday, April 03, 2005

Indian Ocean countries still squabbling over tsunami warning system

The Independent Online Edition News story:

"Squabbling and foot-dragging among countries bordering the earthquake-prone Indian Ocean is endangering the establishment of an effective tsunami early-warning system, The Independent on Sunday can reveal.........

"UNESCO's Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre did issue an immediate alert to Indian Ocean countries, warning that the earthquake had "the potential to generate a widely destructive tsunami" and advising the evacuation of coasts with 600 miles of its epicentre.

"But it still did not have a systematic system of government bodies around the ocean to which to send the warning. In the three months since the December tsunami - the most devastating in human history - only Sri Lanka had set up an official "national focal point" to receive warnings and pass them on its citizens......

"Instead, a top UNESCO official admitted late last week, the centre contacted the US State Department, which passed the message on to its embassies in Indian Ocean countries, with an instruction to inform governments. And it sent messages to people and organisations who had specifically asked to receive them since December."

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