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Indian Ocean tsunami warning system to be established.



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MEDIA RELEASE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ALEXANDER DOWNER

FA88 Friday 1 July 2005

INDIAN OCEAN TSUNAMI WARNING SYSTEM TO BE ESTABLISHED

I welcome the unanimous decision at UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) Assembly in Paris to establish an Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (IOTWS). This landmark decision will pave the way for accurate and timely warning of possible tsunamis throughout the Indian Ocean region.

Australia played a leading role in developing an institutional framework for the proposed Indian Ocean system. Just two days after the 26 December tsunami, the Prime Minister and I opened discussions with regional countries to ensure rapid agreement on an institutional framework. The fact that one has been identified and agreed upon within six months is testament to our region’s political commitment to ensure that vulnerable communities have as much warning of potential tsunamis as possible.

The Indian Ocean system will consist of a coordinated network of national warning systems including the $69 million Australian Tsunami Warning System announced by the Australian Government on 12 May.

Establishment of Australia’s national system was coordinated by my Department, working closely with the Bureau of Meteorology, Geoscience Australia and Emergency Management Australia. This system will provide round-the-clock tsunami analysis and monitoring linked to our comprehensive emergency management system.

As part of the Indian Ocean system, Australia’s increased monitoring capacity off the West and North West coasts will form a vital part of regional coverage. Australia is commited to sharing all relevant information with the region, as we do for the Pacific through the Pacific Tsunami Warning System.

I am also pleased that Australia has been selected to host the IOTWS Secretariat at the IOC’s office in Perth. The first meeting of the IOTWS Intergovernmental Coordinating Group will be held in Perth on 3-5 August. Australia can be relied upon to do this work well, cooperating closely with the region and in particular with our key partners Indonesia and India.

Media inquiries: Chris Kenny (Ministerial) 0419 206 890 Julie McDonald (Departmental) 02 6261 1555

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