More than five years after the September 11 attacks, most major US cities have yet to fully establish a system allowing emergency services to quickly communicate with each other after a disaster, a US government report said.

The Homeland Security Department report came more than five years after the 2001 terror strikes against Washington and New York showed communications problems between fire, police and medical officials.

Since then, only four of 75 major US metropolitan areas — Washington, San Diego in California, Sioux Falls in South Dakota and Laramie County in Wyoming — have fully established “interoperable communications,” the report said.

Interoperable communications, involving policies, technology and training, allow police, fire and medical services to communicate with each other within one hour of an emergency, the department said.

Among the largest US urban areas, Los Angeles and New York have nearly finished establishing the system, while Chicago and San Francisco have only implemented about half of the tasks needed, according to the report.

The Homeland Security Department has awarded 2.9 billion dollars since 2003 to boost state and local efforts to establish the system.

In June, another Homeland Security Department report found that only seven percent of 75 urban and metropolitan areas had a satisfactory evacuation plan nearly one year after Hurricane Katrina, which killed about 1,500 people in September 2005.

Copyright © 2007 Agence France Presse

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