Tsunami information critical to disaster mitigation
| 07.19.2006 | 03:45:06 | Views: 2949 | ID:
July 19 '06: Timely and quick dissemination of information following a large earthquake which could trigger a tsunami is difference between life and death according to a Government Accountability Office report released in June. The GAO's findings were reinforced on Monday when a killer wave struck the coast of Java killing more than 500 people. Indonesian scientists told the BBC they were not able to warn residents on the island coast of Java about an impending tsunami following a large earthquake Monday because of a slow warning system. The inability of scientists to process the incoming information and relay it to those in harm's way caused more than 500 deaths while officials have said the country is in the process of building an improved public warning apparatus.
From the time of the 7.7-magnitude earthquake to the arrival of the destructive wave, only twenty minutes passed - well below the 60 minutes needed to receive and analyze the data. Scientists in the US and Japan, however, were able to send a warning to Indonesian authorities 15 minutes after the temblor, wire reports found.In June, the GAO released the report on the state of the US' tsunami preparedness and found that a greater coordinated information sharing environment and response mechanism was needed to mitigate any possible danger, Environmental News Service reported. The Associated Press reported Wednesday that rumors of another possible tsunami headed for the island "sparked mass panic ... More than 1,000 people ran from the beach area or jumped on bikes or in cars and headed inland amid shouts of 'The water is coming!'" Additionally, the AP reported, "The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and Japan's Meteorological Agency issued warnings of a possible tsunami about 15 minutes after Monday's quake. The tsunami struck Java about 45 minutes later - before authorities had time to warn anyone on the coast." The Indonesian government is upgrading its tsunami warning system to integrate it with the larger Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System. Similar warning systems are well-established in the Pacific with the US maintaining a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association outpost in Hawaii to monitor Pacific geologic activity and subsequent tsunamis. The information in the US is relayed by the tsunami warning system to state and local governments as well as the media, which in turn release the information to the public.
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