Ways to improve early warning systems for earthquakes and tsunamis were the focus of a forum in Hanoi on April 21.

The Seasonal Climate forum was run by the National Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting Centre, the Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre and the American Red Cross.

Le Tu Son, an Institute of Geophysics representative, said because earthquakes and tsunami were uncommon in the country, there had been insufficient investment and research on the issues.

The seismicity is moderate in the North and weaker in the South, he said.

“Although there has not been any critical damage caused by earthquakes, the subject needs serious consideration by authorities.”

Vietnam’s sharpest earthquake, in the Tuan Giao district of Dien Bien province in 1983, registered 6.7 on the Richter Scale. Another of 5.3 hit Dien Bien in 2001 and destroyed more than 3,000 houses, the forum heard.

Son said the most likely source of tsunami in Vietnam would be an earthquake centred in Manila. It would reach the coastal cities of Da Nang, Quy Nhon and Nha Trang in about two hours.

“How to deal with the approach of a tsunami in two hours is what should concern us all,” he said.

The Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology said a project to install a national seismic network, with 36 stations equipped with modern technology, was underway throughout the country.

Stations were commissioned in the northern Son La province and southern Lam Dong province’s city of Da Lat. Communications will be within the framework of an Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre network.

The National Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting Centre deputy director general, Tran Van Sap, said another 19 stations for tsunami early warnings were being established in the Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago.

Jaiganesh Murugesan, a representative from the Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre, said the forum would be held biannually in Vietnam.

It aimed to prepare a plan for every season, provide short and medium-term recommendations to improve inter-agency coordination, streamline climate information and find ways to better meet the challenges of climate change./.