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Vietnam tests first tsunami alert system

by Staff Writers
Hanoi (AFP) May 16, 2011
Vietnam has tested its first tsunami warning system, the builder said on Monday, in an effort to prevent a massive loss of life if giant waves strike the coast.

Vietnam began preparing the alert system following the Asian tsunami of December 26, 2004, which killed more than 220,000 people around the region -- although not in Vietnam -- in one of the world's worst natural disasters.

The trial, which involved two of 10 alert stations along the central Vietnam coast, was successful, according to Dinh Duc Thang, assistant director at Viettel Telecom's office in Danang.

"Sirens wailed 10 minutes after these two stations received alert signals" from the local geophysics institute, said Thang, whose military-owned firm built the system.

"All went well, as planned", he said, adding that the other eight stations will be tested later this year.

A decision would be made later on whether to extend the warning system to other points along the central coast, another Viettel official told AFP earlier.

Vietnam is occasionally touched by minor earthquakes but was not affected by the 2004 disaster or the 9.1-magnitude earthquake and a huge tsunami that battered Japan's northeastern coast in March this year.

But Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai said Vietnam needs to be prepared for natural disasters.

"Disasters are proving very worrying and Vietnam is also facing complicated increasing problems associated with climate change," he was quoted as saying in the official Vietnam News.

"So the quicker we act, the less effect there be on people and the economy."

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