PHUKET, Thailand, Dec 1, 2006 (AFP) – Thai and US officials Friday sent off a ship carrying a tsunami warning device designed to protect millions of people around the Indian Ocean from a repeat of the catastrophe two years ago.
Some 220,000 people in a dozen countries were killed by a tsunami that hit off Indonesia on December 26, 2004.
The buoy launched Friday is the first deep sea protection system installed in the Indian Ocean to prevent future tragedies.
“Two years ago, few people really knew what a tsunami was or how powerful and destructive a tsunami could be,” US Ambassador to Thailand Ralph Boyce said.
“There were no warning systems then, and most people did not know what to do when they watched the waters recede from the beaches before the waves struck.
“With the launching of this buoy, we are taking a big step forwards in better protecting hundreds of millions of people living across the Indian Ocean,” he added.
The US-funded Deep-Ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis (DART) consists of a platform that rests on the seabed to detect seismic activity.
The platform sends a signal to a buoy floating on the surface of the water, which in turn communicates by satellite to tsunami warning ce