PHUKET: Gen Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, today pledged US support for the development of a tsunami warning system for the Indian Ocean.
Speaking at Phuket Provincial Hall this afternoon, Gen Powell said, “Tsunamis of the kind we saw [on December 26] are not that common in this part of the world, so perhaps enough attention hasn’t been given over the years to putting a warning system in place.
“The Japanese are hosting a conference at the end of the month that will perhaps deal with this kind of disaster reduction activity, and I know the Thai government is anxious to move forward. They want to move forward on a regional basis, but I know they are prepared to move forward alone if necessary.
“We thought it would be better if we do it on a regional basis. We have our experience and expertise and we would certainly do everything we can to contribute to a regional warning system.”
However, Gen Powell added, “There are two aspects to this: not just detecting that something [is] about to happen, but also the means to distribute that information.”
He also extended his condolences to victims of the tsunami, saying, “I’d like to express our condolences to the Thai people, for the Thais who were lost, and also to the [people of] other nations who are here looking for their loved ones among those who are still missing.
“We hope that in the days ahead we will be able to work with the Thai government to complete the recovery operation and then get on with the process of rebuilding, and giving people a chance to rebuild their homes and to restore their businesses and to begin to rebuild life as they knew it.”
Governor of Florida Jeb Bush, brother of US President George W Bush, who accompanied Gen Powell to Phuket, also extended his condolences to victims, and commended the global response to the catastrophe, speaking of the relief workers as “true heroes … working 24 hours a day without asking for anything in return.”
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