Indonesia Marks Tsunami Anniversary With Quake Drill

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CIWANDAN, Indonesia (Reuters) – Thousands of Indonesian factory workers and villagers scrambled up the hills of Java island on Wednesday as sirens blared in a drill to mark the third anniversary of the deadly Asian tsunami.

As part of the drill watched by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, authorities also tested the response of emergency relief teams to a mock chemical leak in a factory on the northwestern Java shore if an 8.5 magnitude quake were to hit the area.
Workers act as tsunami victims during a drill in Ciwandan district near Cilegon in Indonesia's Banten province December 26, 2007. (REUTERS/Dadang Tri)
"We hope through this exercise people begin to understand that they live in a tsunami-prone area and know what to do in a case of an emergency," said Ami Pramitasari of the research and technology ministry which led the drill in Ciwandan district.
"The Sunda strait is a meeting point of several plates, making it prone to high-magnitude quakes," she told Reuters. "At the same time, this is an industrial area and a tsunami could leak hazardous chemicals and case multiple disasters."
The warning system was set up after the Dec. 26, 2004 giant waves triggered by one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded that pulverised villages along Indian Ocean shores, killing or leaving missing about 230,000 people.
The province of Aceh on the northwestern tip of Indonesia's Sumatra suffered the most, with about 170,000 dead or missing and billions of dollars in losses.
Indian Ocean countries have since installed expensive warning systems and stage periodic evacuation drills to prepare better for another such disaster.
Indonesia, which is situated in a belt of intense seismic activity known as the "Pacific Ring of Fire", has installed sirens along the coast of quake-prone islands, such as Sumatra and Java as part of a warning system.
The government plans to set up 11 buoys around the country to detect high waves resulting from undersea quakes.
The government's tsunami warning project aims to deliver tsunami alerts within five minutes of an undersea quake, but experts say that cannot be achieved until the archipelago of 17,000 islands has installed at least 22 buoys, 120 tide gauges with digital recordings, and 160 seismographs.
Source: The Star December 2007
This article has been transferred from Expat KL
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