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Caribbean tsunami warning system to take step forward with UN-backed group

Caribbean tsunami warning system to take step forward with UN-backed group

An independent tsunami early warning system for the Caribbean region, in place by 2010 at the latest, is likely to be a major step closer today when a United Nations-backed coordination group decides whether to give the go-ahead for a regional data-sharing system.

The creation of the real-time sharing system for existing seismic monitoring networks will be discussed at the third session of the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Tsunami and Other Coastal Hazards Warning System for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions (CARIBE EWS) taking place in Panama through Friday, according to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

An implementation plan for the system, drafted by a group of experts from the Member States and the Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), will be submitted for approval by Member States during the meeting, UNESCO said.

The new system will replace the temporary service being provided by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre.

UNESCO’s IOC set up a tsunami early warning system for the Pacific Ocean as early as 1965 and, after the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, has been instrumental in putting rapid warning systems in place in that region as well as in the Mediterranean, North-East Atlantic and the Caribbean.

The goal, according to UNESCO, is a rapid tsunami early warning system for the entire globe.

The Caribbean region, with its population of nearly 40 million, is by no means spared the risk of tsunamis, the agency said. The most recent catastrophes occurred in the San Blas Islands of Panama in 1882, Puerto Rico in 1918 and the Dominican Republic in 1946.