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Monday, Dec 27, 2004

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India to join global tsunami warning system

By P. Sunderarajan

NEW DELHI, DEC. 26. The Central Government would soon initiate steps to join 26 countries which form a network to warn each other about tsunamis.

The U.S., Japan, China, Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Singapore are already part of the international tsunami warning system, which is located near Honolulu, Hawaii.

The countries regularly monitor seismological and tidal wave stations throughout the Pacific Ocean basin for any earthquake that has the potential to generate tsunamis and issue warnings to member countries that could be hit.

Speaking to The Hindu , the Secretary, Department of Science and Technology, V.S. Ramamurthy, said the Pacific Ocean and in particular the Sumatra regionwas known for high seismic activity and many tsunamis occur there.

But, so far India had never been affected.

The system, which was set up in 1960s, would help India get advance information on when and where the tsunami would hit.

According to experts, if the warning system had been available to India, hundreds of lives could have been saved today. Detection of the tsunami was difficult as it travelled very fast in deep waters, but no disturbance would be visible on the surface.

Only when it approached land, it would reach a great height and become visible. The transformation would be fast and there would be hardly any time to issue a warning.

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