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Pattaya Daily News

14 September 2010 :: 10:09:56 am 38592

Technical Issues Hamper Andaman Tsunami Drills

Thailand on Monday held a series of tsunami evacuation drills along five Andaman coastal regions including the seaside resorts of Phuket and Koh Phi Phi. The proactive practice drills were hampered in some areas by unresponsive or ineffective warning signals from designated tsunami warning towers.
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Thailand, the 13th of September 2010: The exercise was aimed at reassuring local residents and tourists along Andaman coastal provinces that the facilities and management plans enacted after the devastating 2004 tsunami would help prevent and minimise losses in the event of another natural disaster of such proportions.

Deputy Permanent Secretary for the Interior Wiboon Sanguanpong presided over the drill on Thailand’s main resort island of Phuket, significantly damaged in the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004 and the main location for Monday’s practices. Warning systems and evacuation drills were also conducted in the coastal regions of Phangnga, Krabi, Ranong, Trang and Satun.

Based on Phuket’s Patong Beach, the drill involved the simulation of an earthquake in the Indian Ocean, similar to the 2004 disaster resulting in over 5,000 deaths, with all 19 specifically designed warning towers blared instructions in both Thai and English, while rescue crews were actively evacuating the shocked and/or elderly both on and offshore.

Designated ‘high ground’ locations were the focus of evacuation measures in the exercise, which Mr. Wiboon declared as “satisfactory” upon its completion. In addition, he urged residents of Phuket to maintain their vigilance and to “be prepared in case of a natural disaster, which could strike anytime”.

Despite Mr. Wiboon’s assessment of the situation many locals complained of inoperable or unclear warnings emanating from the warning sirens, while various sections of the 1.5 kilometre coverage zone in Patong explained that the warnings did not travel the required distance.

Mr. Panu Yamsri of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation explained that some towers were inoperable during tests, while inconsistent volume of emergency broadcasts from operational towers was a major factor.

Meanwhile, similar drills conducted on Krabi’s popular resort of Koh Phi Phi reported similar faults in the 32 warning sirens positioned on the island, with inconsistent volume in the emergency message the main point of contention, according to Governor Prasit Osathanond.

Following Monday’s drills and resultant investigations, Director of the National Disaster Warning Center Viriya Mongkolveerapan explained that officials were now looking into the technical difficulties reported, while evacuation procedures will also be analysed in order to make them more efficient and effective at dealing with a disastrous situation.

Reporter : John Weston   Photo : Internet   Category : Thailand News

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