Dec 29, 2008

World - Pakistan's tsunami warning system far from perfect

Islamabad, Dec 28 (ANI): If reports are to be believed, Pakistan's tsunami warning system is far from perfect, due to a lack of coordination between the district, provincial and national disaster management authorities.

According to a report in the Dawn, while Pakistan was spared the destruction of the 2004 tsunami, the country has experienced several earthquakes, some of them devastating.

The country faces a constant risk of experiencing a tsunami if an undersea quake strikes the Indian Ocean close enough to Pakistan's coast.

The Pakistan Meteorological Department has recently installed the National Seismic Monitoring Network and Tsunami Warning Centre at the Meteorological Complex in Karachi, in a bid to give authorities ample warning in case of a tsunami.

The centre is supported by highly sensitive broadband seismic stations in Balakot, Muzaffarabad, Gilgit, Chitral, Quetta, Khuzdar, Turbat, Zhob, Bahawalnagar and Umerkot.

But, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Major-General Farooq Ahmed Khan is of the opinion that a sea-based early warning system is required if Pakistan wants more comprehensive protection.

The sea-based system is much costlier and has so far not been made operational.

"Only the ground-based early warning system is operational at this point," Maj-Gen Farooq said.

"In the situation of a tsunami in the Arabian Sea, an immense amount of damage will be caused, especially close to the shoreline," Farooq said, adding that "there should be plans and contingency plans for such a time and breakwalls should also be erected to control the extent of devastation along with other related measures that can restrict the degree of damage."

Karachi's cyclone affected areas are very susceptible to tsunamis.

"Unfortunately, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority and the District Disaster Management Authority, that are supposed to be the first responders in case of a crisis are not living up to their role," said Farooq.

"The provincial disaster management is not functional and district disaster management does not exist," he added.

But, according to Dr Qamaruzzaman Chaudhry, the Director-General of Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), "Pakistan is technically sound and can issue a tsunami warning and generate an adequate response immediately after an earthquake, but we need to work more on our coordination with disaster management cells and organisations providing relief in case of natural disasters," he added. (ANI)

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