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Pattaya Daily News

27 December 2010 :: 13:12:44 pm 48271

Phangnga, Phuket hold remembrance events for those killed in 2004 tsunami

PHUKET, Dec 26 -- Foreign and Thai relatives of those who perished in the devastating tsunami disaster that hit Thailand’s six Andaman coastal provinces on Boxing Day in 2004 held remembrance events for their beloved ones in the two southern resort provinces, officials said.
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Simple ceremonies including religious activities were part of the remembrance events held in Phangnga and Phuket provinces, which were hit by the deadly tsunami six years ago today.

In Phangnga province, families of the dead travelled to Baan Nam Kem Tsunami Memorial Park and laid wreaths dedicated to the names of those who died. The relatives also plan to release lanterns after sunset this evening.

A number of government agencies also organised several events in nearly Phuket province. Thai government officials from national and provincial offices and agencies, as well as relatives of the victims of the tsunami early Sunday offered alms to 130 Buddhist monks near Patong Beach.

At Mai Khao’s Tsunami Wall of Remembrance in Thalang district, relatives, both Thais and foreign nationals, also placed national flags in front of the names of those who died.

The Japanese-Phuket Association in cooperation with Patong Administration Organisation will hold a remembrance ‘Light Up Phuket’ activity during which attendees will light candles and place them along the beach in the evening.

On the  morning of Dec 26, 2004, a magnitude 9.15 earthquake off Indonesia triggered the deadly Indian Ocean tsunami which left around 226,000 dead or missing in Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and nine other countries.

In Thailand, six provinces — Phangnga, Krabi, Phuket, Ranong, Trang and Satun — were hit by the unprecedented tsunami, with 5,395 local residents as well as Thai and foreign holidaymakers losing their lives in the tidal waves. Over 8,000 were affected here — 8,457 were injured and 2,995 went missing in the giant wave disaster.

Following a report of tsunami victim autopsies and identifications, the dead were listed as 1,899 Thais, 1,953 foreigners and 1,543 persons who remain unidentified.

The remains of tsunami victims who remain unidentified after six years are retained at a cemetery in Phangnga.

Phuket tests tsunami emergency-response systems

On the 24th December 2010, emergency-response exercises were carried out in Phuket to demonstrate marine and airborne rescue operations for tsunami victims.

Both government agencies and private entrepreneurs joined the exercises.

“The 2004 tsunami caused huge casualties and massive damage because we lacked good emergency-response plans and an early-warning system,” Phuket disaster-prevention-and-mitigation chief Sant Jantawong said.

In 2004, The tsunami hit six southern provinces, including Phuket.

Sant said the exercise would enhance relevant officials’ skills and facilitate coordination among various organisations.

“We have also prepared a memorandum of understanding on cooperation for disaster prevention and mitigation, because this will allow the speedy delivery of relief items in the event of big natural disasters,” he said.

Yesterday’s exercise included an evacuation drill involving speedboats and helicopters.

Phuket Governor Tri Akaradecha has so far dismissed rumours that a tsunami is likely to hit the South this month.

“To date, there’s no equipment that can predict so much in advance as to when a tsunami will be formed,” he said. Tri complained that the rumours had hurt the tourism sector. “We have sent written explanations to embassies and consulates to ease the worry of tourists,” he said.

He revealed that Phuket had up to 19 warning towers and had an efficient emergency-response plan in place.

Ranong disaster-prevention-and-mitigation chief Chasan Kongruang said relevant officials had checked 13 warning towers across 45 communities in the province.

“The warning towers are ready to sound the alarm if they get a tsunami alert,” he said. “The alarm signal is 100 per cent reliable.”

This month, the Phuket Marine Biological Centre installed a tsunami buoy about 250 kilometres off Phuket and another buoy about 230km off the Surin Islands. “If these buoys detect giant waves, officials on the ground will be alerted within five minutes,” said Chayasarn Tonanont, in his capacity as the chairman of the Deep-Sea Buoy in Andaman Project.

The installation cost about Bt162 million (S$6.97 million).

Chayasarn said three tsunami buoys were now operating in the Andaman Sea. The first buoy, installed years ago, has sent alerts to the National Disaster Warning Centre every time it detects an underwater quake.

On September 13, six tsunami-hit provinces – Ranong, Phuket, Phang Nga, Krabi, Satun and Trang – simultaneously tested their 127 warning towers and conducted evacuation drills.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Thailand News

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