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Experts say Thailand still not prepared for another tsunami, public unaware of danger

Maya Taylor

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STAFF PHOTO: Buildings and palm trees destroyed on Koh Phi Phi's Loh Dalum bay following the December 2004 tsunami.

17 years after the Boxing Day tsunami devastated Thailand’s south-west coast, the country remains unprepared for a repeat performance. That is the view of a number of public disaster experts, who warn that the general public is unaware of the risks posed by another tsunami. According to a Thai PBS World report, experts also say Thailand still doesn’t have an effective early warning system.

Dr Pennueng Wanichchai from the Ministry of Science, Research, and Innovations says another tsunami is a distinct possibility in his lifetime, given the huge build-up of energy underneath the Andaman Sea, which could be released by an earthquake and subsequent tsunami. He says he fears that people would not be evacuated in time given the lack of an effective plan that can be put into action at short notice. Thai PBS World reports that Pennueng fears people may not know what to do and could head home to their families, or to school to pick up children, instead of getting to higher ground immediately.

Dr. Panon Latcharote from Mahidol University agrees, citing a lack of preparation as one of the main reasons for the high death toll following the tsunami of 17 years ago. He says procedures like evacuation plans need regular practice, so that people get used to the process and know what to do once disaster strikes. He adds that researchers at Mahidol are working on a tsunami risk map for the Andaman region.

Meanwhile, Dr. Pasakorn Panon from Kasetsart University says it’s vital to study the fault lines in neighbouring countries, as Thailand could be affected in the event of an earthquake. According to Pasakorn, the lack of high-definition geographic data for Thailand’s coasts, both on land and in the sea, means it’s difficult to create a tsunami simulation model for the region.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

 

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