When Worlds Collide #113: Outpacing Tsunamis in the Indian Ocean: Are we ready?

When Worlds Collide, by Nalaka Gunawardene

Text of my ‘When Worlds Collide’ column published in Ceylon Today newspaper on 4 July 2014

How a tsunami warning system works. AFP FILE PHOTO How a tsunami warning system works. AFP FILE PHOTO

Timely warnings about on-coming disasters can literally save lives – provided the word reaches those at risk. And they know what to do, and react quickly.

These elements form part of disaster risk reduction, or DRR, now receiving greater attention as the frequency and intensity of disasters keep increasing.

In December 2004, the Indian Ocean tsunami caught Sri Lanka by surprise and some 40,000 lives were lost. Most of those could have been saved if only a simple warning – for coastal evacuation – reached them. There was a tight but useful window of around 90 minutes until the killer waves arrived on our East coast (and a bit longer while they went around the island and hit other coastal areas).

Sri Lanka was not…

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