New York, NY (BBN)– Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said he is deeply saddened by the loss of life and destruction of property in Indonesia as a result of the eruption of the Mount Merapi volcano and the tsunami that affected residents of the country’s Mentawai Islands.

Mr. Ban extended his deepest condolences to the families of those who have died, been injured or made homeless by the two disasters whose effects are still unfolding tragedies.

“He acknowledges the work the Government of Indonesia is doing to help those affected, and expresses the readiness of the United Nations to contribute to those efforts,” his spokesperson said in a statement on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Irina Bokova, the Director-General of the UN Scientific, Educational and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said that the tsunami and earthquake in Indonesia demonstrated the need for improving the disaster preparedness of coastal communities in vulnerable regions.

She noted that Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System functioned effectively during the magnitude-7.7 earthquake and the subsequent tsunami, but warning messages could not be issued quickly enough to protect populations around Mentawai Islands.

According to Wendy Watson-Wright, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General and Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), Indonesia’s Tsunami Early Warning System (InaTEWS) issued the first warning to national authorities within five minutes of the under-sea earthquake, allowing many people to take the necessary precautions.

However, because the centre of the earthquake and tsunami was located just a few kilometres off the Mentawai Islands, even the very swift warning from Indonesian authorities could not reach the fishing villages in Pagai or Sipora before the tsunami hit the shore.

BBN/SSR/SI-29Oct10-7:59 pm (BST)