07/22/2006, 00.00
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Tsunami alert still high, warn experts

by Mathias Hariyadi

Sunda Strait near Jakarta, just shaken by a strong tremor, is at the centre of attention, but so far it has been spared by freak waves. President Susilo visited Cilacap and promised to have a new anti-tsunami alert system in place by 2008.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – There is no let up in alerts about possible further natural disasters in Indonesia, after a tsunami struck the areas of Cilacap and Pangandaran on Java island on 17 July, and a strong tremor was recorded only two days later in Sunda Strait, west of the capital. Experts have warned residents of areas like Banten, Tangerang and Jakarta to be "maximum alert" and on the lookout for potential danger. Meanwhile, the President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, yesterday visited Cilacap and promised urgent measures to install a tsunami alarm system. Such a system was meant to be the hope of salvation for the coastal population after the tragedy on 26 December 2004, but it was not to be.

Jusuf Jayadihardja, from the Indonesian ministry for research and technology, said that, for example, in Sunda Strait, "there is a seismic threat on two fronts: on the one hand, there are tectonic movements in the ocean, and on the other, there is growing activity of the dangerous volcano of Krakatau mountain between Java and Sumatra."

At the centre of harsh criticisms for the deficient tsunami prevention measures adopted and for the management of the consecutive disaster, Susilo ordered agencies concerned to speed up the procurement of new seismographs and early warning systems at least in the "most high risk" zones of the country. The president said the government was allocating "a huge extra budget" of several millions of billions of rupees for this project. However he warned that Indonesia would not manage to equip itself with such high technology systems alone. "Donors such as Japan, Germany and China have issued their commitments to this project," he said. According to the head of state, the anti-tsunami alarm system will be ready before 2008.

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