Meteorological Department head, corruption, blamed for navy ship sinking

PHOTO: The head of the Meteorological Department was blamed for the sinking of the HTMS Sukhothai. (via Daily News)

In the wake of the devastating navy ship sinking last month, someone needs to take the blame. Yesterday, the Pheu Thai Party declared that the person accountable for the tragedy of the HTMS 442 Sukhothai is the weatherman. The director-general of the Meteorological Department of Thailand is being blamed for not providing a more accurate report of the dangerous weather. Moreover, they hint at corruption putting an unqualified person in charge of the agency.

Deputy Pheu Thai leader Yutthapong Charatsatian held a press conference yesterday in which he said that the Meteorological Department failed to predict or communicate how dangerous the weather was in that area of the sea. The strong winds and enormous waves eventually capsized the HTMS 442 Sukhothai, leaving the crew onboard stranded at sea and resulting in at least 18 fatalities so far. Officials have said the lack of life jackets on board directly contributed to the amount of death in the catastrophe.

The political party blames the director-general of the department for giving misleading weather predictions and what they say was erroneous information. The Meteorological Department had issued warnings about the extreme weather, but not close enough to the area of the accident. They had cautioned that off the coast of Surat Thani there would be waves as high as four metres. But the navy ship was 100 nautical miles away, off the coast of Prachuap Khiri Khan, when it encountered even bigger waves of up to six metres that sealed its fate.

They went on to assert that Meteorological Department Director-General Chomparee Chompurat was unfit to be leading the department and that’s why she did not give accurate or useful enough warnings about the conditions at sea. They claim that she was only put in charge of the department because she was a former clerk to Digital Economy & Society Minister Chaiwut Thanakhamanusorn who had advocated for her promotion.

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While the Meteorological Department did issue weather alerts for December 17 through December 20, and the boat sank on December 18, the government official claim the alerts did not accurately explain how rough the seas would get. The navy ship never would have set sail from the base in Sattahip, Chonburi had it known how treacherous the conditions were at sea.

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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