From: Reuters
Published February 19, 2008 12:45 AM

Thieves might steal tsunami warning buoys: Australia

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Australia has asked Indonesia's navy to help stop thieves from stealing buoys which will be part of an Indian Ocean tsunami warning system.

Australia's Bureau of Meteorology spokesman Geoff Love told a parliamentary hearing on Tuesday that Canberra plans to place two tsunami-warning buoys later this year in international waters between Australia and Indonesia.

"We are negotiating an agreement with the Indonesian government to make sure that they don't become the victims of pirates and scrap metal collectors," Love told the hearing.

Australia and the United States are helping to build the tsunami early warning system after a magnitude 9.15 earthquake off the Indonesian island of Sumatra killed up to 230,000 people around the Indian Ocean rim on December 26, 2004.

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Love said thieves searching for scrap metal had stolen floating weather stations from waters off Australia's north-west coast in the past.

"We've found automatic weather stations for sale in Hong Kong and don't want that to happen again," he said.

He said tsunami buoys, which measure changes in sea levels after earthquakes, had been deployed around Australia and would provide at least 90 minutes of advance warning of a tsunami hitting Australian shores.

(Reporting by James Grubel)

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