Indian Ocean Nations Prepare for Next Tsunami.

The next time a tsunami strikes the Indian Ocean rim -- and scientists say that could happen anytime -- an early warning system should detect it and trigger warnings in time to millions living in coastal communities.

That's the plan anyway.

A $53 million interim warning system using a string of tidal gauges and undersea sensors is nearing completion in the Indian Ocean with help from the U.N's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.

Tsunami national warning centres are being planned for 27 countries around the Indian Ocean rim -- three of them will be regional centres.

Thailand and Indonesia are installing warning towers on vulnerable beaches. Sri Lanka has established model "Tsunami Protection Villages". India is spending $27 million to set up a regional warning centre by 2007.

But when a tsunami strikes again, will the warning centres cascade alerts down to remote villages? Will they be staffed 24 hours, seven days a week? Will authorities be able to put evacuation plans into effect when they do get warned?

Can governments, in the words of the IOC, "manage tsunami risk"?

"The latter implies emergency preparedness planning, legal and administrative frameworks, awareness campaigns and education, and the development of the operational capabilities to act in an emergency," IOC Executive Director Patricio Bernal said after a conference on a regional warning system last week in Hyderabad, India.

Tag : , , .