Deadly tsunami leads to bet­ter alert sys­tem

Central and North Burnett Times - - LIFE STARS -

THE Box­ing Day tsunami in 2004 is be­lieved to be the dead­li­est tsunami in his­tory, killing more than 230,000 peo­ple across 14 coun­tries. The death toll in­cluded 26 Aus­tralians.

The dis­as­ter be­gan when a 9.1-mag­ni­tude earth­quake struck in the In­dian Ocean, 250km south-east of the In­done­sian city of Banda Aceh on De­cem­ber 26.

Within 20 min­utes of the quake, tsunami waves hit Banda Aceh and con­tin­ued to ra­di­ate from the quake epi­cen­tre, hit­ting coast­lines in Thai­land, Sri Lanka, In­dia and, about seven hours later, in Africa.

Ac­cord­ing to a Na­tional Geo­graphic re­port, Aus­tralian seis­mic sta­tions were the first to trig­ger an alert at the Pa­cific Tsunami Warn­ing Cen­tre in Hawaii but there was no rigid warn­ing sys­tem for In­dian Ocean coun­tries in place. The cen­tre had no con­tacts for af­fected coun­tries in the In­dian Ocean.

Fol­low­ing the dis­as­ter more than $14 bil­lion in aid was pledged by the international com­mu­nity.

Also in re­sponse to the dis­as­ter, the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment at the time de­cided to strengthen the Aus­tralian tsunami warn­ing sys­tem.

The Aus­tralian Bureau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy web­site states that Aus­tralia is bound on the north-west, north-east and east by about 8000km of ac­tive tec­tonic plate bound­ary ca­pa­ble of gen­er­at­ing a tsunami, which could reach our coast­line within two to four hours.

The Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment com­mit­ted $68.9 mil­lion over four years to es­tab­lish an Aus­tralian Tsunami Warn­ing Sys­tem.

This in­cluded the es­tab­lish­ment of the Joint Aus­tralian Tsunami Warn­ing Cen­tre with 24-hour mon­i­tor­ing and analysis ca­pac­ity for Aus­tralia, and the up­grade and ex­pan­sion of sea-level and seis­mic mon­i­tor­ing net­works around Aus­tralia and in the In­dian and South West Pa­cific Oceans. The pro­ject was com­pleted in 2009. The word tsunami is Ja­panese, and trans­lates to “har­bour wave”.

PHOTO: DEDDEDA STEMLER/AP

A res­cue and clean-up crew sur­vey a flooded lobby at the Sea­pearl Beach Ho­tel along Pa­tong Beach on Phuket Is­land, Thai­land, on De­cem­ber 28, 2004 fol­low­ing the Box­ing Day tsunami.

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