Hollow Warning

BANGKOK, Dec 18, 2006 (AFP) – Nearly two years after the tsunami, a regional warning system is beset by squabbling and inaction, officials and experts say, as individual countries instead scramble to implement their own schemes.

Thailand this month released a US-funded deep-sea warning buoy into the Indian Ocean, while Indonesia plans to install about 15 similar devices.

But persuading the counties to work together, overseen by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) is proving trickier.

“(The IOC) keep talking, they keep discussing, they organise a meeting (but) there is no solid outcome, nothing is happening,” said Smith Thammararoj, head of Thailand’s National Disaster Warning Centre.

Nations around the Indian Ocean were taken completely unaware when an earthquake off the coast of Indonesia sent towering waves sweeping across the coastlines of 11 counties on December 26, 2004, killing about 220,000 people.

Determined to avoid a repeat of the catastrophe, affected countries and donors came up with a regional solution similar to the Pacific Warning System, which has its headquarters in Hawaii.

But two years have passed and the region still cannot decide which country wil