Poor nations ill-equipped to cope with tsunami: Red Cross

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The Red Cross said Friday that some countries threatened by tsunamis after the Japan earthquake may be ill-equipped to deal with the fallout and people might have to be evacuated to avoid being swamped.

If the tsunamis were to reach between 4-10 metres, they would be higher than some of these islands, warned Paul Conneally, spokesman from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

"We are particularly concerned for those developing and coastal countries which are particularly vulnerable to this and which may not have the national response mechanisms in place to deal with it," he said.

The Philippines, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands count among the most vulnerable, he said.

Noting that the tsunami forecasts are wavering between 1 and 10 metres, "we need to keep an eye on it," he said.

"If we have a tsunami wave that is predicted to be anything between four and 10 metres, this is higher than some islands we know. So it will be of course a major priority to ensure that people can be taken out of harms' way," he added.

Conneally said however that the region and relief agencies have learnt lessons from the devastating 2004 tsunami which hit Indonesia's Aceh and the Indian Ocean region and that it is hoped that the experience could help to curb any losses.

"We have really invested a lot in putting in good preparations mechanisms in place, good response mechanisms in place. With the national societies, we are hopeful that we'll help to mitigate major shocks and loss of lives," Conneally said.

© 2011 AFP

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