PUTRAJAYA: Two sites have been identified for the setting up of Malaysias own tsunami early warning system in the Indian Ocean between Aceh, Langkawi and Phuket and in the Pacific between Sabah and Mindanao.
Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Dr Jamaluddin Jarjis said the system would be operational before the end of the year.
The system would consist of buoys on the surface of the ocean and sensors that would be placed at the bottom of the ocean.
In the event of a tsunami, the data received by the sensors would be transmitted to the buoys which would in turn relay them to a satellite.
He said the system would be linked to the Hawaiian Tsunami Centre so that it can be connected to other warning systems set up by neighbouring countries.
The Cabinet has agreed that we should adopt a two-pronged approach by setting up our own system while at the same time co-operating with other countries for the setting up of a regional system.
Until the system is ready, we will rely on the Hawaiian Tsunami Centre which will advise us of any incidences of earthquakes anywhere that might generate tsunamis that can endanger our shores, Dr Jamaluddin said after chairing his ministrys post-Cabinet meeting yesterday.
He said Malaysia had the capacity to detect earthquakes but not those that could generate a tsunami.
An early tsunami warning system is very important because once it occurs, its can travel as fast as a jet. We may have very little time to warn the people before it hits our shores, he said.
He explained that the tsunami which hit the country on Dec 26 was not the same one that hit Aceh and the coast of Thailand, but was generated by another smaller earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale that occurred at 12.21pm.
Jamaluddin said that once the system was in place, his ministry would discuss with the National Security Council on the most effective way of warning the public should a tsunami occur.
Malaysia, he said, would also take part in the meeting to discuss the setting up of a regional tsunami early warning system in Bangkok on Jan 28 and the Third Earth Observation Summit in Brussels on Feb 16 so that the country could become a party to the Global Tsunami Warning System.