Myanmar to strengthen tsunami warning system

YANGON, Jun 15, 2005 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Myanmar will sponsor a paper- reading session here on tsunami in this weekend to study ways of strengthening its tsunami warning system, the state-run newspaper New Light of Myanmar reported Wednesday.

Proposal on setting up a national tsunami warning center will be discussed at the session scheduled for Saturday, sponsored by the Myanmar Engineering Society.

A field report on post tsunami survey along the coastal areas of the country will also be submitted for study, it said.

Myanmar was not much affected by last Dec. 26 tsunami that smashed across the Indian Ocean compared with other South and Southeast Asian nations, with official death tolls standing at 64 in coastal areas. The tidal wave destroyed over 600 houses in 29 villages, leaving 3,460 people homeless in some of the regions in six divisions and states -- Tanintharyi, Yangon, Bago, Ayeyawaddy, Rakhine and Shan (South).

In the post-tsunami period, Myanmar has been undertaking a coastal storm and tidal surge forecast project for improved weather prediction services. The project, being implemented with the assistance of the Honolulu-based PACON International (the Pacific Congress on Marine Science Technology), involves the utilization of numerical prediction method to provide advance warning of storm and tidal surge.

Besides, the Myanmar Meteorology and Hydrology Department (MHD) is also strengthening its public information work about natural disaster and climate change by planning to produce a series of documentaries to raise public awareness against such unpredictable mishap to help manage disaster.

Meanwhile, Red Cross societies from Southeast Asia is seeking better cooperation in regional disaster management. It plans a meeting in Yangon for the red cross societies from 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and East Timor to discuss such powerful earthquake which shook islands off the northwest coast of Sumatra in Indonesia on March 28, according to the Bangkok Office of the International Federation of Red Cross.

The eleven SEA countries have established a regional disaster response team in 2003 to assist each other when disasters occur.

According to MHD latest records, two low-intensity undersea earthquakes measuring 2.3 to 3.5 on the Richter scale hit Myanmar' s capital of Yangon last February without causing casualties and loss of properties.