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PM expresses sorrow over tragedy in Japan

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham has expressed condolences to Japan on behalf of The Bahamas in the wake of the 8.9-magnitude earthquake and tsunami that devastated the country yesterday.

In a statement, Ingraham said the thoughts and prayers of all Bahamians are with the victims and their families as they endure the pain of the natural disasters.

“The Bahamas was happy to learn that the world community at the level of the United Nations and indeed the capital cities of the developed countries with the ability to respond have signaled a readiness to lend whatever assistance is required by Japan to recover from this terrible disaster,”Ingraham said.

The tsunami unleashed as a result of one of the strongest earthquakes in recorded history hit Japan killing hundreds of people, and carrying away cars, ships and homes.

There were fears yesterday that thousands of people may have been killed as a result of the earthquake and tsunami.

Meanwhile in The Bahamas, the National Emergency Management Agency(NEMA) is establishing a national warning system for disasters.

NEMA Director Captain Stephen Russell said a workshop on the system concluded yesterday.

“The aim and outcome of the workshop was to collectively produce a protocol for The Bahamas to enable NEMA and all agencies to notify the entire Bahamas almost simultaneously in the event of a pending natural disaster or any other significant event that can occur anywhere in The Bahamas,”he said.

Russell emphasized that the aim of establishing the system is to ensure that alerts go out as quickly as possible.

An emergency notification listing has been put in place, which enables text messages to be sent to as many as 300 people across the country.

“We have representatives from all the disaster consultative committees throughout The Bahamas in 26 districts. We have at least 10 persons from each of these committees who we can send these text messages to. So we are trying to increase that to 1,000 at least by the end of June,”Russell said.

NEMA is also seeking to place alert sirenes in strategic locations on various islands.

Russell said eight to 12 sirenes would be needed to cover The Bahamas. Each siren costs$58,000 to$60,000, he added.

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