Tsunamis are rare in the Indian Ocean, which has no system for detecting then and alerting those in danger. Scientists do not have the equipment to tell when an earthquake has created a tsunami. The first notice of the earthquake that anyone at the Pacific Tsunami Center received was a computer-generated image set off by seismic sensors at 2: 59 p. m.
on Saturday. Hawaii has warning sirens, and the weather radio network of oceanographic administration to carry tsunami warnings. Any country that has experienced a tsunami recently or that may be hit by one need some kind of warning system to protect their people. Although Sri Lanka is not part of the Pacific tsunami warning system, some officials at the Hawaii station were informed that a tsunami could be developing. The officials then sent a message to Sarah Weerawarnakula, the director of Sri Lanka's Geological Survey and Mines Bureau.
Weerawarnakula said that his organization received an alert from "international bodies" about the quake. He also stated that it took time to decipher the meaning of the message, and then it was too late to get out a signal. He said that sometimes warnings could be made, but not this time. There is no reason why someone could warn for one tsunami, but not the next one.
Even if the signal is late, at least some people will be able to get away. The citizens of Sri Lanka have the right to know that a tsunami is coming; the officials should not hold this information from them. A summit has not decided to create a tsunami early warning system for the Indian Ocean. The high-tech equipment could detect tsunamis that are still miles out at sea. The system works in a simple way. A pressure sensor sits on the bottom of the ocean and measures the weight of the water above it.
If a tsunami passes overhead, the pressure increases and the sensor sends a signal to a buoy that is sitting on the sea surface. The buoy then sends a signal to a satellite, which alerts a manned early warning center. Official then send out a warning to various countries that are in danger. The warning systems in Sri Lanka and throughout the region are totally inadequate. Weerawarnakula's attempt to justify the unjustifiable demonstrates that, in the face of evidence of a massive earthquake and possible tsunami, authorities on the island froze. Even after the tsunami hit the east coast, no official action was taken to alert people elsewhere.
In relatively shallow water, the wave took up to an hour to sweep around the island and hit the south and west coasts. There is no excuse as to why there was no warning.