Alert agency is on constant watch


The European Alert System (EAS), at constant readiness in Strasbourg, is the body charged with co-ordinating relief efforts whenever an earthquake or similar catastrophe occurs in the region.

Created in 1987, the EAS keeps a round-the-clock watch and moves into action whenever the Euro-Mediterranean Seismological Centre at Bruyeres-le-Chatel, in the Paris area, detects an earth movement of magnitude 6.0 - defined as "moderately destructive" - or more on the Richter scale.

A message is sent to the country where the movement has taken place with a call for more information and an offer of help.

The EAS director, Ms Francoise Tondre, stresses, "It's in the first 72 hours that most of the victims of an earthquake can be rescued."

It is therefore vital to get the relief operation moving as rapidly as possible.

Since the first announcement of Turkey's earthquake on Tuesday, the EAS has been relaying a constant stream of information to the health and disaster relief authorities in its member-states - 23 in the European and Mediterranean area, including Lebanon, Algeria and Russia. Japan attends EAS proceedings with observer status.

The EAS is linked to the Worldwide Standard Seismological Network, which comprises over 125 monitoring stations.