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Working Phone In Java Could Have Saved Lives ! - 1/2/2005 10:30:01 AM   

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A working telephone line in a specialised seismographic station on the Indonesian island of Java could have provided an early warning about Sunday’s deadly tsunamis and might have saved lives in India and Sri Lanka, a media report said today.

But the monitoring station lacked the telephone connection needed to relay news of the impending disaster to Jakarta, said.

A seismograph designed to detect earthquakes that cause tsunamis was installed on Java in 1996, but the data it collected was not sent to the central government in Jakarta because the telephone line had been disconnected since an office move in 2000, it reported. Better-equipped warning systems elsewhere also failed to alert the relevant authorities. A tsunami warning system for the Pacific Ocean issued a warning about the December 26 earthquake just 15 minutes after it was detected. But the network is designed to serve countries around the Pacific Ocean, such as the US and Australia. Officials in charge were unable to reach authorities in Indian Ocean nations, the report added.

Officials in Jakarta were alerted to the earthquake that caused the giant waves by readings from the country’s other 60 or so seismographs, but a lack of data from the specialised Java station prevented them from issuing a tsunami warning, Nanang Puspito, head of the earthquake laboratory at the Bandung Institute of Technology in Indonesia, was quoted as saying. Countries such as Sri Lanka and India, which suffered thousands of casualties, could potentially have been warned some two hours before the waves completed the 1,500-kilometre journey from the earthquake’s epicentre off Indonesia, the report said.

The need for a system in the Indian Ocean similar to the one in the Pacific has been discussed at regular intervals by the inter-governmental Oceanographic Commission, the UN body that runs the Pacific network, since at least 1999. ‘‘It is always on the agenda,’’ Vasily Titov, a tsunami researcher at the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, Washington, was quoted as saying. But he said it has been difficult to raise the money required. ‘‘Only two weeks ago it would have sounded crazy,’’ he said. ‘‘But it sounds very reasonable now. The millions of dollars needed would have saved thousands and thousands of lives.’’

Source : IndianExpress
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