United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
First real test of Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System highlights strengths and gaps

UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura has extended his condolences to the victims of yesterday’s tsunami in Indonesia and urged Indian Ocean nations to maintain the momentum in establishing their national warning systems to “make the final mile to the people on the coast.”

“The Indian Ocean tsunami Warning System established by States in the region with UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission over the past 18 months functioned well yesterday, with national authorities receiving the information allowing them to act; in Jakarta, the tsunami advisory was received only 19 minutes after the earthquake,” Mr Matsuura said. “However, several hundred people still lost their lives and tens of thousands more have lost their homes and livelihoods. The system still has big gaps, notably in getting the warnings to coastal communities in time.”

“It is important to maintain the momentum of the past 18 months and to reinforce national capacities to react effectively when such disasters strike,” Mr Matsuura said.

The Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System will meet in Bali from 31 July to 2nd August to assess the results of this first real test of the System, to review progress on its development and revise priority actions in light of yesterday’s events.

So far, 26 out of a possible 29 national tsunami warning centres, capable of receiving and distributing tsunami advisories around the clock have been set up in Indian Ocean countries. The seismographic network has been improved, with 25 new stations being deployed that will be linked in real-time to analysis centres. There are also three Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis (DART) sensors. The Commission for the Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) is also contributing data from seismographic stations.

At present, information bulletins are issued from Japan and Hawaii, pending a final decision on the location of regional centres in the Indian Ocean. This will be facilitated when important additional contributions including instruments such as deep-sea pressure sensors and ground deformation sensors become available in late 2007 and 2008.

The Indian Ocean System constitutes a vital component of a global system, which the UNESCO-IOC has been working towards. To this end, warning systems are also being established in the North East Atlantic, Mediterranean and Adjoining Seas, and the Caribbean. Protection is also being reinforced in the South West Pacific and the South China Sea.


More information at: http://ioc3.unesco.org/indotsunami/

Source Press release no. 2006-85
Website 1 (URL) More information
Editorial Contact: Sue Williams, Press Relations Section, Bureau of Public Information
- Email s.williams@unesco.org
Publication Date 20 Jul 2006
© UNESCO 1995-2007 - ID: 33900