Need For R&D Into Early Disaster Warning System

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KUALA LUMPUR – The time has come for research and development (R&D) to look into a more effective early disaster warning system to detect any potential disaster just before it happens.

Presently, disasters like earthquake could only be alerted by the warning system when it has occurred even though the system has helped in evacuation preparations, nonetheless there is a need for the disaster to be detected before it happens.

In Malaysia, the tsunami early warning system set up in 2005 is used to detect disasters.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia geostrategy expert Prof Dr Azmi Hassan said for the time being there are no systems capable of predicting or detecting the occurrence of disasters such as earthquakes and as such R&D have to be carried out to look into the matter.

“Earthquake is not like volcano eruption which we can forecast. We do not even know the possibility of an earthquake happening. At the moment, there is only one system which detects an earthquake taking place,” he said when contacted by Bernama here.

He said R&D was needed to ensure the existing system was capable of channeling early information to the people and reduce destruction as well as the loss of lives.

The Malaysian National Tsunami Early Warning System (SAATNM) in used currently is only able to detect an earthquake or tsunami 15 minutes after it has started.

Yesterday, a moderate 5.2 magnitude earthquake shocked Ranau in Sabah at 9.06pm and it could felt at several other locations in the state while the 2015 earthquake measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale with its epicentre in Mount Kinabalu was the strongest ever to hit the country.

Meanwhile, Meteorological Department director-general Alui Bahari said SAATNM which is a disaster detecting technology used in several developed countries, was set up in the country following the tsunami which struck Aceh, Indonesia in December 2004.

“We have been given the responsibility to establish and coordinate the system. Personnel of the Weather and Disaster Operations Centre are on duty round the clock at monitoring stations to gather such information,” he said.

SAATNM has three main components namely data and information gathering, processing and dissemination while its data gathering component comprises 14 seismic stations located all over the country. – BERNAMA