firm offers to donate tsunami sensor system

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    Firm offers to donate tsunami sensor system
    An Israeli company says it plans to give Asian countries hit by last week's tsunami a device that it says could save lives by warning people that a tsunami is coming.

    The system, developed by Israeli inventor Meir Gitelis, uses land and water sensors smaller than a shoe box to measure seismic activity and wave motion.

    Like other systems already in operation, the sensors can send instantaneous alerts by satellite to governments anywhere in the world.

    Unlike others, the Israeli system can also relay warnings directly to private subscribers over mobile phones, pagers or dedicated receivers, spreading the message more widely.

    Seaside hotels could install a satellite receiver to pick up warnings broadcast over the system seconds after an earthquake that could cause giant waves.

    Local mobile phone or pager networks could do the same and send SMS messages to their subscribers.

    "The sensors determine the tremor's intensity as well as the height and speed of the waves above it," said Mr Gitelis, of Avtipus Patents and Inventions which specialises in sensors and communications devices.

    "The system can then analyse all the data and predict if and when a tsunami will come, where it will hit and how big its impact will be," he said.

    "We're not doing this to make money.

    "We want to help people. We plan to give our product to poor countries for free and we will not charge the countries that were affected by the disaster in Asia."

    At least 145,000 people were killed in Asia by the massive December 26 earthquake and the tsunamis that followed.

    United States officials who detected the quake said they tried frantically to warn that the wall of water was coming, but there was no official alert system in the Indian Ocean because such catastrophes happen so rarely.

    Tsunami warning stations exist around the Pacific Ocean.

    Mr Gitelis says his system could be particularly effective in holiday resorts like those devastated by the Indian Ocean tsunami, which took an estimated 75 minutes to reach Thailand and much longer to hit Sri Lanka and parts of India.

    But in areas with poor communications it could still be hard to warn people of the approaching danger.

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