A team of German and Indonesian scientists will set sail Tuesday for Sumatra island to install a tsunami warning system in the region worst hit by last year's Asian killer wave.
The system of sensors on the ocean floor and giant buoys on its surface will be able to notify coastal observation stations within 10 minutes of a tsunami-strength earthquake.
The system transmits information about earthquake activity to the stations via satellite. They will then automatically alert local media and residents via mobile phone text message, e-mail and fax, said Idwan Suhardi, a scientist from Indonesia's ministry of research and technology.
It will be operational in Sumatra by the end of the year, said Suhardi.
"The system offers the possibility of very fast and also reliable warnings," said Freider Meyer Krahmer, state secretary at Germany's Ministry of Education and Research, at a ceremony on board the Sonne, a German research vessel.
"It will not only warn against tsunamis, but also other hazards such as volcanic eruptions and storms," he said. The system will eventually be expanded to cover all of Indonesia, one of the most seismically active regions in the world.
The Dec. 26 earthquake and tsunami killed or left missing more than 220,000 people in 11 Indian Ocean nations. Sumatra, on the westernmost end of the Indonesian archipelago, was the hardest hit, losing some 128,000 people.
Sumatra has been wracked by scores of powerful aftershocks since the monster quake that generated the tsunami last year. Experts say the fault line that triggered that temblor is unstable and may produce another massive quake soon.