The tsunami: how much was bureaucracy at fault?

Red tape stopped scientists from alerting countries
around the Indian Ocean to the devastating Boxing Day tsunami racing
towards their shores.

Scientists at the Tsunami Warning Centre
in Hawaii – who have complained about being unable to find telephone
numbers to alert the countries in peril – did not use an existing rapid
telecommunications system set up to get warnings around the world
almost instantly because the bureaucratic arrangements were not in

Senior UN officials attending a conference in Mauritius
of small island countries – some of them badly hit by the tsunami, now
recognised to have been the deadliest in history – revealed that the
scientists did not use the World Meteorological Organisation’s Global
Telecommunication System to contact Indian Ocean countries because the
"protocols were not in place".

The system is designed to get warnings from any country to all other nations within 30 minutes.

was used to alert Pacific countries to the tsunami, even though it
affected hardly any of them, and could have been used in the Indian
Ocean if the threat had been from a typhoon, officials said, but it
could not be used to warn about a tsunami.

Dr Laura Kong, the
director of the International Tsunami Information Centre which monitors
the warning system in Hawaii, said: "The [meteorological
organisation’s] system has been set up but the protocols are not
available for tsunami warnings except in the Pacific. So it was used on
26 December but only in the Pacific."

Here is the full story, from The New Zealand Herald, which I have generally found to be a reputable paper.  I urge readers to be careful in interpreting this report.  I would like to see further information, including a response.  Nonetheless the previous major accounts did not point to this particular problem.


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