A lack of funding from currency devaluation prevented the installation of a new tsunami detection system in Indonesia before Friday's devastating earthquake, one of the researchers involved in the project told CNBC.
A 7.4 magnitude earthquakestruck Central Sulawesi province on Friday, unleashing six-meter high tsunami waves in the city of Palu and the neighboring town of Donggala. More than 832 people died, with the death toll expected to rise and many others believed to be affected by rubble and landslides.
Before the disaster, a team of U.S. and Indonesian institutions had developed a method of tsunami detection that they believe provides more warning time than other systems. That could be vital in saving lives.
The program uses sensor nodes, sound waves and cables to recognize changes underwater and transmits that information to the Indonesian Agency for Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics, or BMKG, said Louise Comfort, who is part of the initiative.
"This type of data is really important in determining tsunamis," said Comfort, a professor and director of the Center for Disaster Management at the University of Pittsburgh.
Comfort's team received a grant for the venture in 2013 and successfully tested it in 2016. But funding that was approved in late July to install the prototype "was not sufficient to cover the cost" due to recent devaluation of the Indonesian rupiah, Comfort explained.