Pacific tsunami alert system beaten by nature

Michael McKenna & Gary Hughes; 3/10/09; (3 Items)

Samoa’s tsunami warning system was the pride of the Pacific, intended as a template for the low-lying island nations across the region. But after several years in development, and using a mix of the latest technology and ancient coconut wire, or word of mouth, it was beaten by the force of nature. In the wash-up of the tsunami that killed more than 110 people in Samoa alone, officials and experts in all Pacific countries are now wondering what to do. Australian Strategic Policy Institute research director Anthony Bergin warned yesterday that lack of an effective national emergency warning system left Australia vulnerable.


Rush to find survivors as quake toll hits 1100
TomAlkkard & Jonathan Perlman; 2/10/09
Hopes for hundreds of people trapped under collapsed buildings and homes in Padang are fading, as Australian officials frantically try to track down as many as 60 missing Australians in the earthquake-hit region. A few survivors were pulled from the wreckage yesterday after being trapped for 30 hours or more, but the stench from beneath the ruins dulled hopes and indicated the toll will continue to rise. As rescuers faced shortages of fuel, water and medical supplies, Indonesia began receiving much-needed international aid, including medical and rescue support from Australia. But criticism is mounting about the quality of construction in Padang, perhaps the most earthquake-prone city in the world’s most seismically active country.

Thousands homeless; Samoans live in fear
Malcolm Brown & MichaelField; 3/10/09
Two days after the waves tore through Samoa, fear lies just below the surface.
At 2pm yesterday local time, word spread along the waterfront of an earthquake off Tonga and a second tsunami on its way. A horde of people, including adults with babies in arms, packed into every available vehicle and rushed for high ground – though no tsunami alert had been announced and officials were relaxed. Saofaigo Talameli, 17, had returned with eight family members to camp under a tarpaulin at the place where their house had stood on the waterfront. Hearing of the possibility of another tsunami, she looked to the hills where the family had sprinted before. She stayed. At the tourist spot of Lalomanu, the worst-hit area of the coast, the bodies keep turning up. Four more were found yesterday morning; two more in the afternoon. The bodies included two babies and a skeleton that had been unearthed when the waters scoured the site of a grave, while the body of a Western woman was pulled from the rubble of a resort.