PHUKET: THE pair of powerful earthquakes that struck off the coast of Sumatra on April 11 served as the perfect ‘live test’ of Thailand’s preparedness to conduct emergency evacuation of tsunami risk areas, exposing, once again, serious shortcomings in the government’s ability to relay important information to the public in a timely fashion.
The 8.6-magnitude quake that hit at 3:38pm was felt across the region, causing many people to panic, evacuate buildings and get on the telephone to warn loved ones in risk areas to get to the safety of higher ground because a tsunami might be on its way.
Unfortunately, the huge increase in telephone traffic quickly resulted in almost immediate regional collapse of service by all mobile phone providers, leaving users with an eerie sense of déjà vu. The last time such an across-the-board loss of service struck was in the aftermath of the 2004 disaster.
Meanwhile, efforts by the National Disaster Warning Center (NDWC) to get out real time information and keep the public updated as events unfolded were compromised on many fronts.
After initial reports about the earthquake were aired through terrestrial television, broadcasting across all of these channels was then automatically switched over to “TV Pool” coverage of a state event that continued until 7pm, immediately after which it declared the situation in Thailand as “back to normal”.
This was not the first time the rigid workings of the “TV Pool” have been exposed, in some cases comically. Back in 1991, in the hours following the ouster by coup d’état of democratically-elected Thai premier Chatichai Choonhaven, all five state TV channels at the time displayed an image of the Thai flag as military music played in the background.
From time to time, the music would stop and one of the coup makers would appear to read aloud from a developing list of reasons explaining why the coup had to take place. However, one of these episodes happened to come at precisely 6pm, at which time the announcer was cut off in mid-syllable by the Thai National Anthem played nightly as part of Thailand’s evening “time check”.
Apparently not much has changed since then. As pointed out by former premier Abhisit Vejjajiva, the events of April 11 revealed the need to review the way the “TV Pool” system operates, especially in times when public safety is at risk.
Soon after the first quake, the NDWC website also failed, though the agency did provide some information through its Facebook page. Its “SMS Alert” system failed as well, due to the lack of mobile phone services, the Gazette receiving its warning at 6:35pm, almost two full hours after the first quake.
Fortunately, the NDWC’s network of 69 warning towers got a passing grade, even though it covers only a small part of Thailand’s Andaman coastline that is at risk of tsunami inundation.
Get more from The Thaiger
Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.
Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.
Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.
Everything stolen from Danish man’s 3 homes on Koh Samui
Thai Vietjet resumes Bangkok-Da Lat flights after 3-year break
A mother and baby escape blaze in Chon Buri with severe burns
Whole new world of censorship pain on its way to Thailand
Apple plans to move production out of China and into Thailand
Sex outside of marriage to carry one year jail sentence in Indonesia
Four orcas spotted playing near the Similan Islands
Arrogant Thai construction company rips off Myanmar migrant workers
Safety systems at Central World found fully functional after fire
Big Joke ready to extradite Malaysian super-crook ‘Teddy’
Thai govt’s chemical castration policy takes effect next month
RTP urges Thai drivers not to ignore e-tickets, they’re real, not fake
A few good apples – Taxi drivers are not all bad
Pro-monarchy ‘dictator’ must be stopped from retiring in Australia, say Thai asylum activists
Father’s Day celebrated throughout Thailand today
Bangkok’s best health massage and spa: The ultimate pampering experience
Thai immigration reports over 900,000 tourists in Phuket since May
Police seize board game after claims it could cause insurrection in Thailand
New details unfolding over alleged assault by Pattaya loan sharks
Phuket sees over 50,000 Russian tourists in past month
Thailand’s southern islands are reeling in tourists
North Korea forces citizens to change names for a more idealistic sound
‘Pinky’ the alleged Forex 3D scammer released on bail after 3 months behind bars
Pattaya’s Walk and Eat food festival coming up
TAT launches luxury travel package to Thailand for rich South Korean tourists
Iran promises Thailand it won’t attack Israeli tourists
New drug marks major milestone in slowing Alzhemier’s
Part one: the most haunted places in Bangkok
UK summons Chinese ambassador after BBC journalist arrested covering Covid protests
Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport expects 130,000 daily passengers this month
Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14
Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4
Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO
Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2
Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO
Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23
In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO
Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21
Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19
Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18
Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15
Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14
Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13
Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12
Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11
Cannabis4 days ago
Where you can get cannabis in Bangkok
Crime4 days ago
New details unfolding over alleged assault by Pattaya loan sharks
Crime2 days ago
‘Big Joke’ goes back to school to hunt visa crooks
Thailand3 days ago
Stop giving monkeys cigarettes, beg locals in Lop Buri, Thailand
Chiang Mai4 days ago
Thailand’s top cheesemaker toasts his own success
Bangkok4 days ago
Thai VietJet cancels Phuket – Bangkok flight last minute over 1 extra passenger
Environment3 days ago
Over 100 tonnes of garbage estimated near Phuket Fishing Port
Bangkok3 days ago
Fireworks to dazzle Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River area on New Year’s Eve