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Cell Phones Alert Users of Natural Disasters
In high-tech South Korea, mobile phones are now keeping their owners informed of national disasters via short messaging services (SMS).
Such services are billed as an effective way to minimize casualties and damage from natural disasters, like tsunamis, which devastated nations across South Asia late last month.
Through a partnership with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Korea's No.2 mobile operator KTF launched an early-warning service last month before the tsunami hit.
Under the service Multi-Q, the carrier will send an emergency text message to subscribers who carry service-specific handsets for no extra charge.
``We originally got the idea from the heavy snow early last year, which isolated many people who were not well-informed of the weather forecast,'' a KTF spokesman said.
A total of 4.1 million KTF subscribers are now carrying Multi-Q-enabled handsets. They can receive the emergency warning by signing up for the service.
Market leader SK Telecom minted an alliance with the Korea Meteorological Administration in 2002 and has already sent early warnings to residents of areas prone to torrential rain, like the northern part of North Kyongsang Province.
With NEMA, LG Telecom, the smallest player, also began providing SMS services from last November to clients in the event of floods, heavy snow, earthquake or typhoons.
LG Telecom sent an SMS warning when heavy snow was predicted in Kangnung, Kangwon Province, last December and received a favorable response from users.