Peradeniya Geology Dept. head warned of calamity
Peradeniya University’s Geology Department head Prof. Kapila Dahanayake blamed local authorities for not being able to pick up vital information about the impending disaster.

He said that several international agencies had been trying to contact Colombo to warn against the impending disaster, but due to the holidays they had not been able to get through. Prof. Dahanayaka himself, a week before the disaster warned that we would have to be alert about the recent earth tremors reported.

His warning came after the country experienced a few tremors in Yakkala, Gampaha and Warakapola recently. He had expressed concern even though Sri Lanka was believed to be in a "safe territory" in the region.

"This could sometimes mean nothing. The tremors could eventually die off or on the other hand they could probably increase," Prof. Dahanayake was quoted as saying in the state-run Daily News.

"It is wise to be prepared for the worst", he was quoted saying on December 21. He said, however that Sunday's experience was unexpected as the last such tidal wave had been reported about 2000 years back.

"The occurrence of it was unprecedented and even India knew nothing about it before the incident as only countries around the Pacific would expect tidal waves of such ferocity", and added that the country now needs to know about such incidents in advance.

Prof. Dahanayake said a proposal that SAARC countries needed to have a warning system was good and currently only Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia had such warning systems resulting in Thailand and Malaysia recording a lower scale of damage from the disaster.

He said it was high time that Sri Lanka thought of an advance warning system and that however geologists had said the frequency of tremors have increased to about one in every two years in the recent past with the latest being recorded on Sunday.

The Daily News report on December 21 said that Sri Lankan geological experts believe that Sunday's tremor could have originated from a place 300 kilometres off the southwestern coast of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean.

Geological Survey and Mines Bureau (GCMB) Director Sarath Weerawarnakula said there was a hi-activity centre (epi-centre) located within this area that had been monitored for the past 100 years by geologists.

"Most of the tremors felt by Sri Lanka originate there," he said. The GSMB is expecting the report from the Californian Seismic Centre shortly. "They need readings from three locations to calculate the exact site where the tremor originated", said Mr. Weerawarnakula.

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