A Chinese official said Monday that an experimental earthquake alert system, capable of sending warnings within seconds before a quake strikes, would be installed in quake-prone areas.
Du Wei, deputy director of the Department of Earthquake Disaster Prevention of the China Earthquake Administration, told reporters that the time varied for warnings to reach population centers depending on the location of the earthquake.
The system could send warnings to the epicenter area within seconds when quakes occurred on land, while it took one to three minutes for the signals to reach populated areas in the case of under-sea quakes, Du said.
The alert system, which would be established "within years," was still experimental and could not provide fully effective information, he said.
There was a process of operating, experimenting, adjusting and improving, he said.
The white paper on "China's Actions for Disaster Prevention and Reduction," issued by the Information Office of the State Council (cabinet) Monday, said that a disaster monitoring and early warning system had taken initial shape in China.
China was building a three-dimensional natural disaster monitoring system, including land monitoring, ocean and ocean-bed observation, and space-air-ground observation, it said.
China has built 937 fixed seismic stations and more than 1,000 mobile seismic stations, enabling quasi-real-time monitoring of quakes above 3.0 on the Richter scale.
In addition, 1,300 earthquake precursor observation stations have been established, as well as a mobile observation network of more than 4,000 mobile observation stations.
Seismological monitoring systems at the national and provincial levels have taken initial shape. A high-speed seismic data network composed of 700 information nodes has been built. A text message service to provide prompt earthquake reporting has been launched, according to the paper.