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Warning system might have saved lives in Indonesian tsunami

Source(s):  Associated Press (AP)

By Stephen Wright and Margie Mason

An early warning system that might have prevented some deaths in the tsunami that hit an Indonesian island on Friday has been stalled in the testing phase for years.

The high-tech system of seafloor sensors, data-laden sound waves and fiber-optic cable was meant to replace a system set up after an earthquake and tsunami killed nearly 250,000 people in the region in 2004. But inter-agency wrangling and delays in getting just 1 billion rupiah ($69,000) to complete the project mean the system hasn't moved beyond a prototype developed with $3 million from the U.S. National Science Foundation.

[...]

"The tide gauges are operating, but they are limited in providing any advance warning. None of the 22 buoys are functioning," [Louise Comfort, a University of Pittsburgh expert in disaster management] said. "In the Sulawesi incident, BMKG (the meteorology and geophysics agency) canceled the tsunami warning too soon, because it did not have data from Palu. This is the data the tsunami detection system could provide."

[...]

"What it shows is that the tsunami models we have now are too simplistic," [Adam Switzer, a tsunami expert] said. "They don't take into account multiple events, multiple quakes within a short period of time. They don't take into account submarine landslides."

[...]



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  • Publication date 01 Oct 2018

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