experts discuss EWS with the President
17, 2005 - 11.00 GMT]
A Japanese team of natural hazard management experts is
now in the country at the invitation of the Government. Within days of the
December 26th disaster President Kumaratunga requested the envoy in Colombo
Mr. Akio Suda and sought possible Japanese assistance to establish an early
warning system (EWS) for the region. The delegation of specialists called on
the President today who thanked them for Japan’s generous gesture and
Ambassador Suda for his efforts in coordinating the high level meeting.
During the discussions the President said Sri Lanka was not accustomed to
natural disasters such as the December 26th tsunami. She emphasized,
measures need to be put in place to minimize damage to life and property in
the event of a similar catastrophe in the future.
In the Japanese team were Mr. Tatsuo Hamaguchi, Director General of the
National Institute of Land and Infrastructure Management, Mr. Shuhei Kazusa,
Director of the Earthquake & Volcanic Disaster Management and several
other senior officials. Two Cabinet Ministers, the Secretary to the
President and President’s advisor on science Prof. A. Kovoor were
associated with the President.
The importance of enhancing Sri Lanka’s technical know-how and the
possible Japanese inputs were discussed at length. It was felt that a well
equipped local warning mechanism needs to be put in place first under an
apex body. This would maximize the benefits of the proposed Indian Ocean
Tsunami Warning System. The participants also discussed the usefulness of
the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC) in Hawaii.
The Japanese delegates then explained the disaster management methods in
their country and the government’s role in such situations. They said in
Japan the corporate sector and the local government departments work in
tandem to monitor and disseminate information about impending disasters. The
people are also made aware of what must be done in the event of a disaster.
The Secretary to the President W. J. S. Karunaratne briefed the gathering on
the Government’s National Disaster Management Bill passed in Parliament
recently.He said setting up a National Disaster Management Centre is now in
progress and that it was comprehensive task.
The Director of the Met Department who is the CEO of the Interim Committee
for National Disaster Management explained Sri Lanka’s experiences in
managing minor natural disasters such as floods.
Science & Technology Minister Prof. Tissa Vitarana explained that the
outcome of the Kobe and Paris conferences and the keenness of countries in
the region to be a part of a comprehensive Indian Ocean early warning
system. He said the role of India in this excercise cannot be
The Minister of Environment A. H. M. Fowzie, members of JICA and the
Japanese Embassy, public officials and scientists from government agencies
and academic institutions were also present at today’s discussion.
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Date: March 17, 2005 - 11.00 GMT