Tsunami Drill Held

SANUR ~ Around 15,000 schoolchildren and residents took part in a tsunami evacuation drill last week as the country commemorated the second anniversary of the Indian Ocean catastrophe.

Bands entertained participants as preparations got under way from 7am on Tuesday, with students and residents from surrounding villages packing a one-kilometer stretch of Sanur Beach.

At 9:25 sirens sounded and earthquake warnings were broadcast through loudspeakers.

“Stay away from trees as they can fall over. Stay in open spaces,” the warning said.

Beachgoers were warned that a tsunami might follow as the sea had receded.

Thousands of participants hastened to get to the designated meeting point around 1.5 kilometers away but there was no panic.

Nyoman Wenten, one of the drill organizers, said “we see from surveillance cameras that there are still some people still left on the beach.”

“The disaster mitigation team will sweep the beach to collect the remaining people,” he said.

Bali was not hit by the tsunami that killed 168,000 people in Aceh province at the tip of Sumatra island.

But like the rest of the archipelago, Bali sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” where continental plates meet, causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity.

Similar exercises are to be carried out at other beaches across Bali.

Plans for an early warning system in Indonesia were drafted in the wake of the devastating December 2004 Asian tsunami.

But an integrated system is not expected to be in place until the end of 2008. (AG/BT)

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