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Government Gazette

Tsunami warning possible in 45 minutes

COLOMBO: Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe assured Sri Lanka was now having technology to alert coastal areas within 45 minutes of a possible tsunami triggering earthquake in the region.

Addressing reporters at the Disaster Management Ministry yesterday, he said the set up was not 100 per cent perfect but the country was better prepared now than before the December 2004 tsunami.

“When there was this recent Sumatra quake of 7.5 points, a message from the Hawaii Tsunami Warning Centre reached my desk within 15 minutes that Sri Lanka will not be affected. Through our network we can now alert the coastal residents within 30 minutes afterwards.”

The Minister said they have now put in place an early warning centre which is working 24/7 but they were still in the process of perfecting the network.

“The December 2004 tsunami took one and half hours to reach Sri Lanka. We could have saved a lot of lives if this set up was there then,” he said. The Ministry will also take action to acquire alternative land to re-locate the people in earthslip prone areas in Walapane.

“We have legal back-up under the disaster Management Act to empower officials to acquire land and buildings in a natural calamity like this,” he said, adding that acquisition of alternative land for the Walapane victims had been ineffective because of resistance from estate owners.

“We have thought of stepping in and taking whatever action is necessary to help these people in distress. We are talking about people’s lives. We cannot play with their lives,” he said.

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