Japanese hazard management team visits Sri Lanka

[TamilNet, Thursday, 17 March 2005, 18:23 GMT]
Issues related to establishing an Early Warning System (EWS) and Implementing Disaster Management methods in Sri Lanka were discussed when visiting Japanese experts met with Sri Lanka's President Chandrika Kumaratunge and cabinet officials, a press release issued in Colombo Thursday by the Presidential Secretariat said.

Full text of the press release follows:

"A Japanese team of natural hazard management experts is now in the country at the invitation of the Government. Within days of the December 26th disaster President Kumaratunga requested the envoy in Colombo Mr. Akio Suda and sought possible Japanese assistance to establish an early warning system (EWS) for the region. The delegation of specialists called on the President today who thanked them for Japan's generous gesture and Ambassador Suda for his efforts in coordinating the high level meeting.

During the discussions the President said Sri Lanka was not accustomed to natural disasters such as of the December 26th tsunami. She emphasized measure need to be put in place to minimize damage to life and property in the event of a similar catastrophe in the future.

In the Japanese team were Mr. Tatsuo Hamaguchi, Director General of the National Institute of Land and Infrastructure Management, Mr. Shuhei Kazusa, Director of the Earthquake & Volcanic Disaster Management and several other senior officials. Two Cabinet Ministers, the Secretary to the President and President's advisor on science Prof. A. Kovoor was associated with the President.

The importance of enhancing Sri Lanka's technical know-how and the possible Japanese inputs were discussed at length. It was felt that a well-equipped local warning mechanism has to be in place first under an apex body. This would maximize the benefits of the proposed Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System to Sri Lanka. The participants also discussed the usefulness of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC) in Hawaii.

The Japanese delegates then explained the disaster management methods in their country and the government's role in such situations. They said that corporate sector and the local government departments' work in tandem to monitor and disseminate information about impending disasters. The people are also made aware of how to act in the event of a disaster.

Secretary to the President W. J. S. Karunaratne briefed the gathering on the Government's National Disaster Management Bill recently passed by Parliament. He said setting up a National Disaster Management Centre, which is a comprehensive task, is now in progress.

The Director of the Met Department who is the CEO of the Interim Committee for National Disaster Management explained Sri Lanka's experiences in managing minor natural disasters such as floods."


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