Tsunami warning system goes live

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The Independent Online

A temporary tsunami early warning system for the Indian Ocean came into operation yesterday, as scientists warned that the massive earthquake that caused the Boxing Day disaster may have triggered a "domino effect" of seismic activity.

A temporary tsunami early warning system for the Indian Ocean came into operation yesterday, as scientists warned that the massive earthquake that caused the Boxing Day disaster may have triggered a "domino effect" of seismic activity.

But so far only six countries in the region can receive the information. The six, which were not named, are believed to include Singapore and Sri Lanka. The system is planned to include 25 countries, including Australia, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.

In the aftermath of the Boxing Day tsunami that killed an estimated 300,000 people across the region, the Indian Ocean countries are setting up an early warning system. But that could take years to complete, so the two most experienced existing tsunami warning centres - Japan's Meteorological Agency and the US's Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre - are providing temporary cover.

The quake that struck off Indonesia on Monday, devastating the surfing resort island of Nias and killing at least 500, was a dry run for the new system. In contrast to December, when there was no warning, the evacuations were fast and effective.

A warning system may prove invaluable if research by seismologists at the University of Ulster proves correct. They warned that the Boxing Day earthquake had set off seismic activity that was likely to cause a series of major earthquakes.

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