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Warning system in Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: The national tsunami early warning system will not only be able to forecast tidal waves in the wake of earthquakes. It will also be able to alert the authorities of other disasters as well.

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Dr Maximus Ongkili said the system, which had been equipped with the latest forecasting equipment such as tidal gauges and coastal cameras, was designed to be a multi-purpose system.

“It shares many of the facilities to forecast severe weather. The tide gauges are also located with instruments from the Department of Survey and Mapping and the navy.

“These sea level readings can also be used to monitor storm surges, piling of water along the coasts during monsoons, unusual tides and sea level rise observations.

“The coastal cameras can be used to monitor high waves and rough seas. These uses will make the early warning system more effective,” he said Tuesday in his speech at the opening of the 5th Session of the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System here.

So far, the Government has spent some RM17.9mil on the implementation of the first phase of the early warning system, which, among others, has seen the installation of two deep ocean buoys near Pulau Rondo in Indonesia and Layang-Layang island in the South China Sea and sirens along sea coasts.

Another buoy will be installed in the Sulu Sea soon.

Dr Maximus said the Government is now in the midst of implementing the second phase of the project, with the setting up of an additional 15 tide gauge stations, 14 coastal cameras and 10 sirens, and the upgrading of the earthquake and analysis system.

“This is expected to be completed by year-end,” he said.

On the earthquakes that had been detected near Bukit Tinggit, Pahang, as a result of the 9.3 magnitude earthquake in Sumatra on Dec 26, 2004, Dr Maximus said the Meteorological Department was conducting 24-hour surveillance on the place every day.

Bukit Tinggi has seen 16 small earthquakes between Nov 30 and March 15 this year, with some measuring up to 3.5 on the Richter scale.

“However, the magnitude and frequency have reduced. We will hold some public awareness campaigns on this,” he said.