The latest series of earthquakes to devastate parts of Java's southern coast on Monday, July 17, 2006, have added a new national sense of urgency to efforts to develop a nation-wide tsunami detection system and emergency response program for natural disasters.
The latest quake, which struck shortly after 3 p.m. on July 17th, devastated a 177 km stretch of Java’s southern coast in the Pangandaran region, some 900 km west of Bali. While the earthquake and resulting tidal wave are now credited with causing nearly 600 deaths, hundreds of injuries and substantial property damage – Bali was completely untouched by the disaster as local resident did not feel the tremor. Local port authorities attribute a sudden rise of 20 cm in local tidal levels on Bali's shoreline to the after effects of the earthquake.
The most recent major earthquake occurred less than 2 months after a devastating earthquake near Yogyakarata and Central Java on May 27, 2006 that claimed more than 6,000 lives; and less than 2 years after the December 26, 2004 North Sumatran earthquake and tidal wave that killed more than 230,000 people in 12 countries.
President Promises Urgent Action on Tsunami Warning System
Following the latest tragedy, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has pledged that a nation-wide tsunami warning system will be in operation by mid-2008, accelerating earlier completion dates for a program already underway by the Government.
In Bali, local officials checking tsunami warning devices installed in recent months were shocked on Tuesday, one day after the latest quake, to discover that one of the off-shore warning buoys had been stolen on the same day that the earthquake hit Java's coats. The buoy, part of a 21.6 meter long semi submerged tower assembly, had been serviced by coastal officials only one day before it went missing.
Upon discovery of the theft, a replacement tower was immediately installed.
Local authorities are in the process of installing tsunami warning system detectors along all major tourism beaches in Bali. When completed, detectors will be in place on Kuta Beach opposite the Hard Rock Hotel, Seminyak Beach opposite the Double Six Club, Petitengert Beach, Kedonganan Beach, Nusa Dua, at Air Tanjung and Sanur Beach.
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