All links must work in disaster warning

Posted on December 25, 2005  /  1 Comments

The following article emphasizes the importance of the last mile and also demonstrates the value of the research we will be undertaking in 2006 on assessing the suitability of various technology solutions.

Tsunami warning system a work in progress


  Yuliana, 25, watches her 9 month-old baby, Nurul Husna, as they sit in front of their tent in Lampaseh Aceh, Banda Aceh, Indonesia, Friday, Dec. 23, 2005. Acehnese prepared for the one year anniversary of last years devastating Asian Tsunami, with many having regained jobs and houses, while thousands are still without employment and living in tents. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia — It doesn’t look much like an escape route yet. The path between two plots of property on Indonesia’s tsunami-wrecked coastline is strewn with smashed masonry and is blocked by a pond. The planned escape route in the Indonesian town of Banda Aceh represents the low-tech end of a sophisticated network of seismic monitoring, satellite communications and underwater sensors that is meant to give early warning in case of another tsunami.

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  1. Quake causes tsunami alert, but no damage

    Two weeks before a scheduled test of a warning system for tsunamis around the Pacific basin, a magnitude-7.9 earthquake yesterday off the islands of Tonga provided a more urgent, unscheduled test, briefly causing tsunami fears from New Zealand to Hawaii.

    “This was really the perfect event,” said Gerard Fryer, a geophysicist at the tsunami warning center. “It was in an area that wasn’t populated, and there was a tide gauge within 300 miles where we could see it, and we were able to get a warning out in good time.”

    He added, “Fortunately, it wasn’t necessary.”

    There are still problems in the system. Tonga, for instance, did not receive the warning because of a power failure.

    On May 16, as part of a drill organized by Unesco, the warning center will begin the exercise by sending out a mock tsunami warning. That will allow the authorities in different countries to measure how long it takes to disperse the warning to emergency personnel.