Temporary early warning process set up
In a hi-tech arrangement that might have saved thousands of lives if it existed earlier, Sri Lanka was yesterday given immediate information of a 6.5 degree intensity earthquake in the seas off Sumatra.

The information came from the highly advanced tsunami early warning centre in Hawaii through the Sri Lankan embassy in Washington and the US embassy in Colombo, diplomatic sources said yesterday. The warning about yesterday's earthquake was given to the Sri Lanka Navy around 2 p.m. and it is intended to prevent false alarms, rumour-mongering and the panic that flows from it.

This arrangement will maintain till an advanced tsunami early warning system is set up for Sri Lanka and other countries in the Indian Ocean region.

It is now confirmed that the Hawaii centre had advanced information of a devastating tsunami being triggered by the high-intensity seaquake off Sumatra on fateful December 26, but they could not properly communicate it to decision-makers in Sri Lanka and other countries in the region.

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