Despite the recurring theme that humanity will be able to cope with everything that the millennium bug throws its way, some research firms continue to warn that dealing with Y2K-related glitches will not be easy. One such firm is International Monitoring, a London-based consultancy that specialises in analysing the global impact of Y2K problems. Much of the company's research is based on the principle that linear increases in Y2K failures will lead to exponential rises in related problems. To illustrate the principle, International Monitoring uses the analogy of a natural disaster, in which the level of damage is an exponential function of the force of the disaster. For example, an earthquake measuring seven on the Richter scale will cause exponentially more damage than one measuring four. According to the company's most recent report, which calculates the average probability of Y2K problems in 140 different countries, the following disruptions can be expected on average: Utilities such as gas, water and electricity could be delayed for seven days and during the period might only run at a 50 per cent capacity. Air, sea, rail and road transportation could be delayed by up to 15 days. Telecoms services, including telephone and satellite services, might be at a 50 per cent capacity and delayed for five days. The bug could adversely affect banks for up to three days. Hong Kong utilities, transportation firms and telecoms providers probably would disagree with these figures. CLP Power, for example, has just completed what it claims is the largest Y2K-readiness program in Hong Kong - 100 per cent of CLP Power's systems have been deemed Y2K-compliant and the company does not expect any disruptions in its electricity supply. 'We are confident that CLP Power will provide reliable electricity services to the Hong Kong community when it strides into the next millennium,' a CLP Power spokesman said. Cable & Wireless HKT, the SAR's largest provider of telecoms services, also claims to be Y2K-ready. Last month C&W HKT officials said the company had 'completely solved the millennium bug problem'. The Hong Kong Government also expects the transportation and aviation industry to have become fully Y2K-compliant by the end of last month. However, International Monitoring estimates that at least 98 million problems will be either undetected or unresolved in time. It expects the bugs to be found in software (84 per cent) and PCs (15 per cent). Global damage caused by Y2K will be about US$1.15 trillion. International Monitoring says the United States will be affected by the lack of Y2K readiness in other countries, most of them in Asia. This might happen in the IT and telecoms area since the 15 largest suppliers of IT and telecoms equipment to the US are in countries that are behind in Y2K preparations, including the mainland, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand.