RI, Germany share synergy in tackling tsunamis
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Appreciating Germany’s assistance in developing its tsunami early warning system, Indonesia is committed to strengthening its partnership with the European nation.
Transportation Minister EE Mangindaan emphasized that the Indonesia Tsunami Early Warning System (InaTEWS), which was partly funded by the German government, had played a key role in saving coastal communities in Indonesia.
“The support and assistance provided by the German government has become the core of the InaTEWS system, which has proven to be effective in delivering early tsunami warnings in the country,” the minister said in his welcoming remarks to visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) in Jakarta on Wednesday.
China, Japan and the United States also contributed to financing the development of InaTEWS.
Meanwhile, Merkel praised the partnership and expressed her joy in being able to not only see but also know how the country’s tsunami early warning center works.
“It is urgent to ensure that we, both as a government and a country, not only help Indonesia in times of crisis but also assist the country in developing a tsunami early warning system, as well as transfer our best technological expertise in the development of the system, deemed critical to saving coastal communities in the country,” said Merkel.
“It gives us an opportunity to show that cooperation can run in a more practical way,” she said.
Indonesia began developing InaTEWS shortly after an 8.6-magnitude earthquake hit Sumatra in 2004 and unleashed a massive tsunami that swept through Aceh and places as far away as India and Sri Lanka.
According to the tsunami modeling developed by the BMKG, more than 50 percent of Indonesian coastal areas are prone to tsunamis. Data further reveals that tsunamis occurred once every two years during the period of 1992-2010.
InaTEWS is beneficial not only for coastal communities in Indonesia but also those in other countries on the rim of the Indian Ocean, as it serves as one of the Regional Tsunami Service Providers (RTSP) for the ocean together with Australia and India.
The BMKG’s head, Sri Woro B. Hadijono, said that by using InaTEWS, her agency could obtain real-time reports on earthquakes occurring in the Indian Ocean and its surrounding areas; information that was necessary to quickly warn people in coastal areas about the potential dangers caused by natural disasters, including tsunamis.
“With the new system, we now receive real-time data about earthquakes, including the level of ground shaking, within five minutes of a quake occurring, whereas we used to have to wait for that kind of information for up to 30 minutes,” she told journalists.
During the visit, the BMKG chief explained to Merkel how the InaTEWS system worked. When a strong earthquake occurred in Southeast Aceh in April 2012, she said, tremors or ground shaking resulted from the earthquake sent signals to nearby seismographs.
The seismographs then sent data to the BMKG’s tsunami early warning center via satellite communication. At the center, the data processing system analyzed and calculated the earthquake’s parameters, including the location and depth of the earthquake and time of occurrence, and forwarded the information to local administrations.
“Within one minute from receiving information from the center, they can activate warning sirens,” said Sri Woro.