Asia Pacific
9 years on, Indonesia still alert to tsunami
Last Updated: 2013-12-28 07:59 | Xinhua
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Indonesian president has called for maintained vigilance against tsunami and other natural disasters that may occur in the future in the country.

"We have to constantly be ready to face natural disasters," Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said through his Twitter social media account on Thursday, on the occasion when the country commemorated nine years since the deadly tsunami that devastated the northernmost province of Aceh and affected coastal areas across South and Southeast Asia.

The president's call was understandable as Indonesia has witnessed calamities caused by a series of large-scale earthquakes in Sumatra after the one occurred on Dec. 24, 2004 that killed more than 175,000 people in Aceh province.

The 9.3-magnitude earthquake in the Sunda megathrust fault zone off the coast of Aceh's capital Banda Aceh triggered a deadly tsunami that ripped through Indian Ocean, affected 14 countries and killed more than 230,000 people.

Another tsunami generated by a 7.2-magnitude earthquake in the same fault zone washed away people living in Mentawai in October 2010, killing at least 450 people with hundreds of others missing. Mentawai was a paradise isles to world's surfers located off West Sumatra coast.

The largest archipelagic country sits near the vulnerable seismic fault of Sunda megathrust that is responsible for world's major earthquake and tsunami disasters in modern history.

Aware of its vulnerable geographical position, Indonesia has allocated a total of 16 trillion rupiah of funds (1.3 billion U.S. dollars) to build shelters for refugees and other related facilities until 2017 as a precautionary measure.

Head of Disaster Mitigation Agency Samsul Maarif said earlier that shelters would be built in coastal areas of provinces facing the Sunda megathrust fault zone. The fault zone spans from waters off west Sumatra coast down to waters off the south side of Java and Bali.

He said the shelter construction project has already commenced this year, and every 500 meters there will be a shelter so that people can run to safety within at least 30 minutes in a tsunami disaster.

"We have to build those shelters, as the existing technology cannot predict the occurrence of earthquake," he said.

Apart from building the shelters, the agency also has engaged regional governments to provide periodical training to people on the ways that should be adopted when a disaster happens.

Given its experiences in handling mitigation of frequent natural disasters, Indonesia has been taking a pivotal role in international cooperation on disaster mitigation measures.

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