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Inventor Offers Free Tsunami Warning System for Southern Asia

January 3, 2005

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Meir Gitelis, an Israeli inventor, has offered to donate an early warning system that could help prevent the kind of disaster that struck southern Asia a week ago. Gitelis, of the company Avtipus Patents and Inventions Ltd., said that the company had developed a system that consisted of a series of small land and water sensors to measure earthquake activity and wave motion. The devices are smaller than a shoe box and retail for $170 each.

These sensors can send alerts in seconds by satellite anywhere in the world, to governments and weather services and other organizations that could help spread a warning message. The sensors can also send warnings directly to cell phones or pagers, utilizing satellite technology.

The devastation was so harsh in some areas because no warning system exists in the area. Such systems are usually expensive for countries that have money to spend on such things and prohibitively expensive for poorer countries. Since the disaster, however, the countries in the region have been having intense discussions on whether to install such systems to help keep down the death toll during future disasters.

Gitelis pointed to holiday resorts as an example of his system's potential effectiveness, saying that because the tsunami took more than an hour to reach Thailand and even longer to pummel Sri Lanka, a warning could have saved lives by urging evacuations of areas that were forecast to be hard hit by the incoming waves.

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