(File pix) The tsunami warning system installed nationwide is sufficient to give early warning on any such incoming disaster. Pix by Kandau Sidi

KUALA LUMPUR: The tsunami warning system installed nationwide is sufficient to give early warning on any such incoming disaster.

Deputy Energy, Science, Technology, Environment, and Climate Change Minister Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis said that the system uses tide gauges, coastal cameras, and sirens that is enough to issue early warning to Malaysians.

"There are 77 seismometres, 53 sirens, 17 tide gauges, and 15 coastal cameras installed nationwide.

"The weather in Malaysia is hard to predict because we are in a tropical area where weather movements are brief and always changing.

"At this time, the weather forecast stations and tsunami warning system are sufficient," she said at the Dewan Rakyat today.

She was answering a supplementary question from Jugah Muyang (PH-PKR-Lubok Antu) on whether the government would beef up the country's early tsunami warning system.

In answering his main question on whether the tsunami buoys lost at the South China Sea would be replaced in light of the frequency of earthquakes and tsunamis in the region, Isnaraissah said there are alternatives in place.

"To replace the tsunami buoy that was lost in the South China Sea, the government has the alternative which is tide gauges installed at Pulau Layang-Layang as well as a network of international tide gauges that is shared, which can give needed information for issuing early tsunami warning to related areas.

"Tide gauges also give minute-by-minute data and has the function and effectiveness that is equal to tsunami buoys," she said.

On Oct 4, the New Straits Times reported that three deep-water buoys worth RM7.2 million – used to gather data as part of an early tsunami warning system – had been disposed of for being dysfunctional and not replaced.

The installation of the Norway-made equipment was done in phases since 2006 at three locations – the Andaman Sea, the Sulu Sea and the South China Sea.

The tsunami buoy project, or tsunametre, was the result of a Malaysia-Indonesia collaboration following the 2004 Aceh earthquake, which killed more than 230,000 people from 14 nations, including Malaysia.

However, one buoy – located 500km from Langkawi and 60km from Bandar Acheh, Indonesia, in the Andaman Sea, which was placed on Dec 30, 2005 – was recently found not to have transmitted data every 15 minutes, as it should.

Further investigation revealed that the equipment had disappeared from its original location.

Another buoy – placed near Layang-Layang Island, Sabah, near the South China Sea, on March 7, 2006 – suffered the same fate.

The million-ringgit buoys were written off as being lost, having been either dragged away by sea currents or destroyed by vandals.

The third tsunami buoy – installed near Sipadan Island, Sabah, near the Sulu Sea in 2010 – had exploded during maintenance on the MV Pendamar vessel, and was no longer in use.

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