|Asia News Digest
India's Tsunami Early Warning System Protects Millions
April 7 (EIRNS)After the Dec. 26, 2004 earthquake and the tsunami that followed had taken 229,866 lives, of which 10,881 were Indian causalities (and more than 5,792 missing), the Government of India established the Tsunami Early Warning System (EWS) in 2005, at the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS). The system at INCOIS became a full-fledged 24/7 operational early warning system in October 2007.
The $25 million tsunami warning center at the INCOIS, located in Hyderabad, encountered 25-30 major earthquakes in the last three years. "So far we are 100% right and have not issued any false alert," INCOIS director Sateesh Shenoi told the Indian media recently. India did not face any threat from the magnitude 8.9 earthquake in Japan even though the scientists at the center were monitoring the ocean waves 'round-the-clock.
"We are monitoring everything from the Philippines to Hawaii and were in touch with other tsunami warning centers around the globe since 2007," said Shailesh Naik, secretary at the Ministry of Earth Sciences, who was INCOIS director when the Indian system was being built. The data for the Indian system is being fed by a network of four bottom pressure recorders placed on seabeds, and a network of 50 tidal gauges, maintained by the Survey of India and National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) in Chennai. Eight more bottom pressure recorders are scheduled to be installed.
The EWS was designed to work as stand-alone, as well as a component of a regionally integrated warning system. Present direction of the EWS evolution is towards a globally integrated system called "system of systems." The underlying principle of the EWS is to monitor earthquakes in real-time, around the globe. Since its establishment, 16 earthquake events of magnitude greater than 6.5 have occurred in the Indian Ocean for which timely "No threat bulletins" were issued for the Indian coast, thus avoiding unnecessary evacuation, as well as associated economic losses.
In setting up the system, a vulnerability assessment of India's entire coastline was conducted to generate what is known as the Coastal Vulnerability Index (CVI). The CVI uses historical shoreline erosion and satellite data to assess the vulnerability in a geospatial medium. The CVI was further extended to include multiple hazards, called Multi-Hazard Vulnerability Mapping (MHVM), which incorporates various risk factors like storm surges, as well as social and economic vulnerability factors.
British-Planned Virtual Partition in Afghanistan in Process
April 8 (EIRNS)Despite what President Obama tells the American people, it is evident that the British-hatched plan to institute a virtual partition of Afghanistan is progressing. A senior journalist from Pakistan reported in the Asia Times April 2, that all major anti-Taliban operations have been suspended in the southwestern Afghan provinces of Kandahar, Zabul, Helmand, and Uruzgan, the Taliban's spiritual heartland. This was confirmed to Asia Times by multiple sources, including the Afghan Ministry of Interior and Taliban commanders in Kandahar.
A senior Afghan official confirmed to the paper April 1, on the condition of anonymity, that plans were in place to hand over the security of Afghanistan to Afghan forces by the middle of this year, and that foreign troops would only operate in the six north and northeastern provinces, other than using unmanned drones for strikes against insurgents.
It is evident that shifting of foreign troops to northern Afghanistan, which will help institutionalize virtual partition, needed a pretext. That pretext was presented today by unnamed U.S. and Afghan officials, who said al-Qaeda terrorists are setting up training centers and bases in northeastern Afghanistan, following the withdrawal of U.S. military forces from remote valleys and mountains.
The plan to partition Afghanistan was articulated first by former British envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Sherard Cowper-Coles, a former MI6 operative and a close associate of former British Foreign Secretary David Milliband, at a Foreign Policy Committee hearing of the British House of Commons last year. Later, neo-con Robert Blackwill, who worked with the Bush Administration, laid that out in detail in an article in Foreign Policy magazine last October. The plan calls for putting warlords and "good Taliban" in southern Afghanistan, the Pushtun-majority areas of Afghanistan, as governors of those provinces, while moving the foreign troops to northern Afghanistan, where the locals are not in conflict with the foreign troops. This would form a barrier against the insurgents moving north, the argument goes.
It would leave the opium-producing South as a virtually separate nationperhaps to be called Opiumistan.
Japanese Scholar Warns U.S. on Lack of Earthquake Preparedness
April 6 (EIRNS)A leading Japanese scholar today warned the United States that it may regret its lack of preparedness for earthquakes and tsunamis. Dr. Akihiko Tanaka, professor of international politics at the Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of Tokyo, vice president of Tokyo University, and the incoming chairman of the U.S.-Japan Research Institute (USJI), gave the warning at a USJI-sponsored forum in Washington, D.C., on "Japan After March 11."
EIR asked the panel to comment on lessons that should be learned from the disaster, in light of the "Rim of Fire" events driven by extreme solar activity, the likelihood that the U.S. West Coast will see major earthquakes, and that the Obama Administration is taking down the means for forecasting quakes and studying cosmic radiation influences on the Earth. A U.S. academic on the panel responded that he was from California and that the nuclear plants are near faults and we must review them all.
Then Dr. Tanaka said that the U.S. government and the state governments must look at the "worst case scenario." He noted that Japan, perhaps the best prepared nation on Earth for earthquakes and tsunamis, was overwhelmed by the scope of the March 11 events, "despite the fact that we expect tsunamis every 30-40 years." He said that the last tsunami of this scale in Japan was in the 9th Century. He continued: "In California, they have a massive earthquake approximately every other century, so there's a question about preparing for something with such a low probability. I think there are lessons the U.S. and the states must learn from us on this."
Dr. Tanaka also emphasized that the horrendous death toll in Japan of perhaps 30,000 from the tsunami, must be viewed from the fact that 200,000 homes were demolished, i.e., that the 30-minute warning of the oncoming tsunami saved hundreds of thousands of lives.