LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — President Donald Trump’s plan to cut funding for an earthquake early warning system could have deadly consequences, a congressman from Burbank and a seismologist said Thursday.

Japan already has in place a working early warning system that can go off 20 seconds before an earthquake hits.

But California is still in the process of developing one. If Trump’s proposed budget passes, the project may not go beyond its testing phase.

“President Trump’s budget request for fiscal year 2018 has eliminated funding for this life-saving system,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank.

On Thursday, the congressman and one of California’s leading expert on earthquakes, seismologist Lucy Jones, urged Congress and the president not to slash $16 million designated for developing the warning system from the federal budget.

They said the warning system not only can save lives through automated responses that would slow down trains and open elevators, but it can also give people enough time to stop, drop and hold on.

Jones has just returned from Japan, where she saw its earthquake early warning system in action.

“People in Japan just expect this. It is part of their lives. Everybody has it on their cell phone. People told me about being on the subway; an earthquake would go off, and half the people on the subway were pulling out their phones and looking what’s going on,” the seismologist explained.

Japan’s early warning system was developed, using technology Jones helped create at Caltech in Pasadena.

She said the fact that Japan already has a quake warning system in place using Caltech’s technology when California cannot yet benefit from its own technology is frustrating.

“I love Southern California. I want us to be around after the earthquake,” she added.


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