Phuket disaster chief calls for confidence in tsunami warning system


PHUKET: The series of undersea earthquakes off the Andaman and Nicobar Islands last week has shaken local disaster officials into a comprehensive review of the island’s tsunami warning system and the will of local authorities to quickly evacuate risk areas if necessary.

Officials inspect the tsunami evacuation route in Kamala. Photo: Kamala Disaster Monitoring Center

Two tsunami evacuation drills will be held on the island next Wednesday (July 20), Prapan Kanprasang, director of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) Region 18 office, said. based in Phuket. Phuket News earlier this week.

One evacuation drill will take place in Rawai, home to Nai Harn beach, while the other will be held in Sakhu, south of Phuket International Airport, Mr Prapan said.

Details of the exact locations and times of the evacuation drills have yet to be confirmed, Prapan added.

Mr Prapan urged people to have confidence in the authorities’ ability to warn local residents and tourists on beaches of any impending tsunami with enough time in advance to evacuate risk areas and travel to areas. of security.

“We have 19 tsunami warning towers along the coast in Phuket. In total, there are 112 warning towers in coastal areas along the Andaman coast,” he said.

Officers have been sent to test the island’s 19 towers to ensure they are working properly. Following an order from the National Disaster Warning Center (NDWC) in Bangkok last week, the towers are now tested at 8am each day while playing the national anthem.

Any towers with sirens playing the national anthem at less than desired volume will be rectified, Mr Prapan said.

Mr Prapan’s call for confidence in the warning system comes as the two tsunami warning buoys that Thailand provided to the Indian Ocean tsunami warning network are still not working.

Station 23461, located in the Andaman Sea about 340 km from Phuket, stopped transmitting data on June 9. The buoy is, or was, positioned midway between the Thai coast and where undersea earthquakes continued to rock the southeastern Nicobar Islands last week.

Station 23401, installed in the Indian Ocean at a distance of 965 km west of Phuket, was discovered on October 22 last year to have slipped from its mounting and stopped transmitting data.

The NDWC is responsible for the maintenance and repair of the two buoys and has repeatedly announced that it will launch a buoy repair or replacement mission in November, during the usual repair and maintenance window once every both years.

Prapan pointed out that Thailand’s tsunami warning system relies on the Indian Ocean tsunami detection network, which the NDWC in Bangkok closely monitors.

“There are five channels through which official tsunami warnings are issued. One of them is a direct SMS service to notify the governor’s office,” he said.

The rest are networks of groups including government officials and members of the public, with some groups including amateur radio operators.

The master alert system can issue warnings by cutting off television and radio broadcasts, Prapan added.

The system is configured not to activate automatically unless an earthquake with a magnitude of at least 7.8 is registered. The system can be overridden to issue manually activated warnings, he said.

Local officials have also been dispatched to ensure that tsunami warning signs and evacuation signs in their respective areas are in good condition, and that evacuation safety areas are in good condition, clean and clear, ready to use, he added.

“Please don’t panic, brothers and sisters. If the need arises, our system will notify you immediately,” Mr Prapan said.

The system will give at least 30 minutes notice until around 1 hour and 45 minutes, he added.

“Everyone needs to know what to do if something happens, including which direction to flee from,” Mr Prapan said.

“Please follow the warning signs or follow the map and repeat the evacuation to higher ground. And above all, do not take your luggage with you. Please stay away from the beaches as much as possible”, a- he advised.

Mr Prapan also called on people to disregard online posts that do not cite official government opinions or other substantiated sources. “Don’t be fooled by news in online media that can cause panic without basis or origin,” he said.

Additional reporting by Eakkapop Thongtub

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