Attention needed for tsunami early warning system

Banda Aceh (ANTARA News) - The Acehnese government has said that the tsunami early warning system, which has been installed in a coastal area, needs special attention for improvements in the future.

"During the latest earthquake in April 11, 2012, there were no sirens from this early warning system, and it needs to be fixed," Aceh municipal spokesperson T Said Mustafa said here on Monday.

Mustafa stated that no expert or scientist in the world could predict an earthquake.

"Acehnese people, who are mostly Muslims, still believe that natural disasters such as earthquake are destined by Allah SWT," he said.

Soon after the 2004 tsunami rehabilitation and reconstruction, the government had asked Aceh people not to build houses in coastal areas, but they did.

Mustafa also noted that the recent 8.5 magnitude earthquake, which was centred in Simeulue district, proved that the province was in an earthquake-prone area.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency`s secretary, Fachrul Hadi, said that several tsunami sirens went off during the major earthquake on April 11, 2012, but there were many others that did not go off, and some were delayed.

Therefore, he called on the responsible institutions to repair the broken warning systems and give more attention to Aceh`s coastal areas that do not have early warning systems.

Fachrul also asked for the creation of temporary evacuation routes in several coastal settlements that already have escape buildings.

"For coastal areas that are adjacent to the mountain, it is necessary to build evacuation stairs for people, in case of tsunami. I agree with the idea of Lhoknga sub-district community who requested to build stairs for evacuation," he said.

Fachrul also urged the Regional Disaster Mitigation Agency to aggressively raise awareness about disaster preparedness among the public.

He added that the regional agency must also serve to calm the public and guide them in the right direction when disaster struck.