April 11, 2007 / 8:23 AM / 12 years ago

Indonesia to place tsunami detector off main island

By Mita Valina Liem

JAKARTA, April 11 (Reuters) - Indonesia will deploy a new tsunami detection buoy off the western shore of Java island on Wednesday, an official said, as part of efforts to revive its early warning system hit by technical problems.

Jakarta first began setting up a tsunami warning system after the devastating December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that left 230,000 dead or missing, including 170,000 in the archipelagic Asian country.

Authorities deployed two buoys off Sumatra island in 2005, but they have been dogged by technical problems and are out of service.

When Java’s southern shore was hit by a huge tsunami last year that killed hundreds, the two buoys were sitting in storage waiting for spare parts after they were found bobbing in the ocean severed from their anchors just months after deployment.

The head of the project, Ridwan Djamaluddin, said the new device will address the problems faced by the first two buoys and will be the nearest tsunami detector to the capital Jakarta and quake-prone areas on the western and southern coasts of Java.

"We are planning to make five more — four Indonesian-made and one working together with the U.S," Djamaluddin said.

He said his agency aimed to have 11 tsunami detecting buoys operational by the end of this year.

The tsunami warning project aims to deliver tsunami alerts within five minutes of an undersea quake, but experts say that is just a dream until the archipelago of 17,000 islands has in place at least 22 buoys, 120 tide gauges with digital recordings, and 160 seismographs.

The project has attracted some international support but implementation and funding has been slow. Officials say the project needs $120 million to cover equipment costs alone.

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