METMalaysia proactively monitors earthquake, tsunami threats

Devastation in the aftermath of the tsunami

KUALA LUMPUR – Taking the tsunami which affected several northern peninsular states on Dec 26, 2004 as a lesson learnt, the Malaysian Meteorological Department (METMalaysia) will continue to proactively act and monitor earthquake activities as well as issue tsunami warnings in the country.

MetMalaysia in a statement said its article entitled ‘Earthquakes And Tsunamis – Are We Prepared?’ has stated that this unpredictable weather-related phenomena is potential for massive destruction, injury and death which may also affect the geography of the earth.

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Looking back on the tragedy which occurred over 15 years ago, many did not expect that our country could be hit by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami when a series of tsunami waves travelled across the Indian Ocean after an undersea earthquake with a magnitude of 9.1 struck off the coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, it said.

The quake unleashed a tsunami that hit over 16 countries in which almost a quarter of a million lives were lost in 14 countries and among countries which suffered the worst devastation were Indonesia which recorded the highest number of casualties at 165,708 followed by Sri Lanka (35,399) and India (16,389).

Following the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami disaster, the United Nations General Assembly on Dec 22 2015, designated November 5 as World Tsunami Awareness Day (WTAD).

Following that, MetMalaysia developed the Malaysian National Tsunami Early Warning System (SAATNM) in 2005, with the main purpose to issue an effective and immediate early tsunami warning.

The warning is issued in the event of a tsunami in the Indian Ocean, Andaman Sea, South China Sea, Sulu Sea, Sulawesi Sea and the Pacific Ocean which could potentially affect the country.

MET Malaysia said SAATNM has three main components namely data and information gathering, processing and dissemination.

The data collection component serves to monitor elements in real time, among them, a network of 77 local and international seismological stations accessed through the Global Seismic Network (GSN) and a network of 17 local tidal gauge stations as well as an international sea level monitoring network.

In addition, SAATNM also monitors a network of 18 coastal camera stations, tsunami earthquake bulletins from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC), Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) and Tsunami Service Centres (TSP) in Australia, India and Indonesia.

The data processing component is a seismic data processing as well as a tsunami modeling application and software.

The automatic processing of seismic data application used by METMalaysia is known as the Seiscomp3 and Antelope application to determine parameters such as earthquake epicentre, depth and magnitude of an earthquake that occurs within or outside Malaysia.

While the component for dissemination also known as the delivery and announcement system, will issue earthquake information or bulletins and tsunami early warnings to the public as well as disaster management agencies through various communication channels.

Among the communication channels are short messaging system (SMS), email, fax, website announcements, myCuaca application, radio and television as well as press releases.

“The same information can also be accessed via METMalaysia’s official social media on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the thrice daily television announcements by METMalaysia presenters to ensure the public gets the latest, accurate and authentic information,” it said.

MetMalaysia said SAATNM is now also equipped with a processing system called Advanced Decision and Dissemination Malaysia Seismic and Tsunami Information System (ADMIS) developed since Aug 2017, where the system is able to channel earthquake information to disaster management agencies and the public within eight minutes an earthquake is detected.

These efforts were to ensure that earthquake and tsunami monitorings in Malaysia are in line with the latest technological developments, it said, adding that readiness to face the threat of future earthquakes and tsunamis was for the the well-being of the people.

“WTAD held yearly on Nov 5 following the United Nations General Assembly resolution on Dec 22, 2015 was to call on countries, international bodies and civil society to raise tsunami awareness and share innovative approaches to risk reduction,

“In conjunction with WTAD this year, METMalaysia urges Malaysians to come together to be prepared for any situation in the event of a future earthquake or tsunami in the country,” it said.

The full article on Earthquakes and Tsunamis – Are We Prepared? can be accessed on the Tinta Minda column via Bernama website, www.bernama.com.

— BERNAMA