An international conference on how to reduce the impact of natural disasters is underway in Kobe, in Japan. The Japanese emperor was among representatives from 150 countries on the first day. The focus is the devastation left by the tsnunamis in the Indian Ocean. The UN’s Jan Egeland made the opening address: “The best way we can honour the dead is to protect the living. We must meet today to take on this challenge with renewed urgency and vigour.”
The priority at the conference will be the establishment of a tsunami early warning system for the Indian Ocean. Thousands of lives could have been spared if warnings had reached countries such as Sri Lanka, India, and far away Somalia before the wave struck.
Relief efforts, meanwhile, are being stepped up on the western coast of Indonesia’s Aceh province where over 115,000 people died. The clean-up is a daily task. Military ships, landing craft and helicopters are bringing in supplies. Teams from the US, Singapore and France are helping the Indonesian authorities.