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UN tests tsunami warning system for Indian Ocean

UN delegates and seismological experts examined the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster and its aftermath on Thursday.
PTI | By Associated Press, Kobe
PUBLISHED ON JAN 20, 2005 10:54 AM IST

UN delegates and seismological experts examined the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster and its aftermath on Thursday, as they debated the logistics of setting up an early warning network in southern Asia.

The December 26 tsunami, caused by a powerful earthquake off the coast of Indonesia, killed as many as 220,000 people in Asia and Africa, though numbers have varied sharply. The death and destruction has prompted nations to consider bankrolling an alert system that might have given coastal residents time to flee.

The agenda on the third day of the five-day conference in Kobe, Japan was to sift through various approaches proposed by nations. Delegates were also trying to come up with a disaster-response plan and looking at key factors that prevented authorities from quickly alerting coastal communities about the tsunami danger.

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation has proposed a network of offshore deep-sea buoys in the Indian Ocean and regional communications centres that would cost $30 million and go into operation by mid-2006.

Details, however, remain sketchy.

One major obstacle is finding ways for governments to communicate to coastal residents, particularly in poor countries that lack money to provide their citizens with education and other basic needs.

UN officials have said they will take charge in rolling out a plan.

So far, proposals from India, Indonesia and Germany appear to differ in key areas.

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