How Indonesia can reduce mortality from tsunamis

Source(s)
Cable News Network

By Michael Bociurkiw

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Dwikorita Karnawati, of the country's Meteorology, Climatology and Geological Agency, told me that her agency had been aware since April that there was a need to improve its existing tsunami warning system. She said that by using oceanic bottom sensors connected to a smart cable network, officials would be able to detect both tectonic and non-tectonic induced tsunamis. "Actually, we are now in the process of preparing the system improvement."

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International lenders, who signed off on $6.5 billion of loans to Indonesia in 2018, also have a role to play. They can pressure the country to implement risk reduction into its development agenda and make measurable progress contingent on future funding. The fact that the donated warning buoys haven't been working for the past six years is disgraceful.

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Given Indonesia's history with volcanic hazards and tsunamis, the country's officials should have done more to implement quality risk reduction -- such as moving people away from vulnerable coastlines. And that has prompted Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, head of the Data Information Center and Public Relations of the National Disaster Management Agency, to speak out for "spatial planning" that places buildings a safe distance from shorelines, and for more strict building codes. "It does not mean that disaster-prone areas should not be built (up) at all. It may be built, but there are provisions," Nugroho said.

But there seems to be promising news for Indonesia. The country's Red Cross, which is leading the relief effort following Saturday's disaster, had personnel and pre-positioned supplies in place to treat victims quickly. UN officials tell me the Indonesian Government did not feel the need to issue a call for international assistance.

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