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3:02pm UK, Wednesday April 11, 2012
After the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami killed over 220,000 people, millions of pounds have been spent by nations to make sure a disaster on this scale does not happen again.
The Boxing Day tsunami caused death and destruction across Indonesia, Sri Lanka, southern India, Thailand, and many other countries.
Although some of the affected areas did have early warning systems, in many places news of the approaching wave came too late.
:: Japan, March 2011 – A 9.0-magnitude earthquake hits underwater, causing a tsunami that kills more than 19,000 people
:: Haiti, January 2010 – A 7.0-magnitude earthquake kills between 250,000 and 300,000 people
:: Sichuan Province, China, May 2008 – Around 87,000 people are lost or killed after an 8.0-magnitude earthquake
:: Kashmir, October 2005 – At least 75,000 are killed by a 7.6-magnitude earthquake
:: Indian Ocean, December 2004 – More than 226,000 die when a tsunami sparked by an undersea earthquake, magnitude 9.1, strikes off Indonesia
The region had nothing like the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC) which uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to prepare for quakes and tsunamis in the Ring of Fire and the west coast of the US.
In 2004, the first people knew about the tsunami was when they saw ocean waters recede and then the huge wall of water heading towards them.
At least 1.5 million people were left homeless in the region after towns, cities and coastlines were devastated.
In an area that experiences significant seismic activity, governments knew that after this 9.0 magnitude quake it was time to develop an adequate warning system.
Overseen by Unesco’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, 26 national tsunami information centres were set up receiving information from 25 new seismographic stations.
Three deep-ocean sensors were also developed to detect and report tsunamis and buoys were placed in the ocean to monitor water level changes.
Germany, Japan, the US and others helped to upgrade the region’s shore-based tide-gauge stations, which can measure the sea-level changes caused by a tsunami.
A tsunami buoy is put into the sea in Indonesia
But although communicating seismic activity and water-level changes to experts and officials is all well and good, issuing a warning to the general public is more difficult, especially in places with remote communities.
Thailand, which lost 5,000 people, has worked hard to improve local warnings, erecting 62 sirens on towers along beaches in six provinces, each capable of alerting people as far as 2km inland.
Text message and internet alert systems have also been put in place in countries to warn people as soon as possible.
Although efforts have been made to prevent another disaster, politics have got in the way at times as countries without a history of co-operation struggle to make regional decisions.
There has also been criticism of the fact that countries have ploughed millions of dollars into warning systems but not as much into basic preparedness when rebuilding the infrastructure.