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Indonesian Tsunami re-emphasises need for early warning system

THE TSUNAMI that struck the Indonesian Island of Java last month should serve as yet another wake-up call to the country's government on the need for an advance warning system, said earthquake experts.

'This event highlights that it's not just a matter of putting money into the rebuilding of areas where disasters strike, but also about preparing for the disaster, ' said Arup associate and chair of the Society for Earthquake & Civil Engineering Dynamics Zygi Lubkowski.

A 7.7 magnitude undersea earthquake triggered the 2m high tsunami on 17 July afternoon that killed at least 300 people with a further 140 people reported missing in Pangandaran, the worst-hit area.

'The key is to be proactive rather than reactive, ' said Lubkowski. 'There is a real need to push forward on an early warning system. It would identify an earthquake's size, location and where it is coming ashore.' A well-rehearsed evacuation procedure can then take place, he explained.

This kind of practice has been extremely successful in Japan where response to earthquakes has become second nature to citizens. 'It's important to educate people in these areas as to what they need to do to survive, ' Lubkowski said.

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