Call Made for Tsunami Early Warning Centre in Caribbean

The latest call has come from Puerto Rico’s representative to the US Congress who called on the Obama administration to establish a warning system for the US territory and the Caribbean.

“This centre will result in improved tsunami detection, warning and education activities in the Caribbean,” Pedro Pierluisi said.

The devastating tsunami that hit Japan and left thousands dead has made many in the region nervous.

Mr Pierluisi, a non-voting resident commissioner in the House of Representatives, introduced a bill asking the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to establish such a facility at the University of Puerto Rico.

He added that despite the tsunami threat facing the US Caribbean territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, the only two warning centres in America are located in the Pacific region.

Puerto Rico has been earmarked as a Caribbean centre by United Nations agencies and countries within the region since the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004. But progress has been slow and the earliest implementation date is now expected to be 2014.

Dr Joan Latchman of the Seismic Research Centre of the University of the West Indies says the delays could prove catastrophic for the region.

“We have so many countries, so you have different contributors, different ideas,” she told BBC Caribbean.

“Nothing should be allowed to stand in the way of getting the hazard awareness, the legislation for the building codes, warning centre, everything, it needs to be done now.”

Officials in Washington said the NOAA was considering a centre for Puerto Rico where Governor Luis Fortuño has offered to contribute $6 million for the construction of a facility.

 

(Parts of this article were written with submissions from a BBC Caribbean report)

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