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Airlines voice confidence in Phuket Airport emergency evacuation measures

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Airlines voice confidence in Phuket Airport emergency evacuation measures | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Following the evacuation of Phuket International Airport after the 8.6-Richter earthquake on April 11, several airlines on Friday expressed their confidence in how officials handle the emergency exercise.

At a press conference at the airport chaired by Airport Director Prathuang Sornkham, Thai Airways representative Jittrapong Narongwanich said all airlines that use Phuket Airport remain confident in the evacuation procedures following the April 11 evacuation.

Thanaporn Taebunpakul, representing the Association of European Airlines in Phuket, also confirmed that no scheduled flights from Europe had been canceled since the April 11 tsunami scare.

Member airlines have done a good job in maintaining tourist confidence in Phuket by assuring travellers that effective evacuation measures were in place in case of an emergency, she said.

Also attending the press conference were representatives from several of the 41 airlines that operate at the airport, as well as the management at airport flight control center, run by Aeronautical Radio of Thailand Limited (Aerothai).

Airport Director Prathuang told the press that about 1,500 passengers were evacuated to the designated evacuation zone at the Phuket Air Catering facility, located 1,400 meters from the main terminal.

The evacuation took about 45 minutes, he said.

“No one was injured and all their belongings were safe. Our work impressed the passengers a great deal,” said Mr Prathuang.

The Phuket Air Catering facility sits 20 meters above sea level and is considerably higher than the airfield.

The evacuation was not without problems, however. The breakdown in mobile phone networks was identified as the single biggest obstacle, as officials were able to relay information only by two-way radio.

The evacuation order set in motion an automatic three-hour closure of the airport, causing a traffic jam at the entrance as vehicles were not allowed entry. There was confusion among many arriving passengers who were unaware of the earthquake, the tsunami evacuation issued or the airport’s subsequent closure, Mr Prathuang said.

Mr Prathuang cited training as the reason the evacuation was an overall success.

“We hold an evacuation drill every year, which was why everything went smoothly on April 11. Every airline is confident in our evacuation procedures and no scheduled flights have been canceled. Actually, passenger traffic is up 10 per cent over the same period last year and the number of flights is up three per cent,” he said.

The evacuation protocol calls for all planes capable of taking off do so as soon as possible after a tsunami warning is issued. This is because the airfield is designated as within a tsunami-risk zone. The west end of the airfield was covered with debris after the 2004 tsunami disaster, but was not inundated by the waves.

Also, during an evacuation all inbound flight are diverted to other airports in the region until the warning is rescinded and the situation returns to normal. Many of the aircraft are re-routed to Krabi Airport or Surat Thani Airport, while others are ordered to land at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Mr Prathuang explained.

He added that the main terminal at Phuket Airport was built 30 years ago under a design that would allow it withstand damage in the event of an earthquake of up to 5.0 magnitude centered under the airfield.

— Kritsada Mueanhawong



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Phuket

Phuket seastead will be removed today

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket seastead will be removed today | The Thaiger

The Third Naval Area Command will remove the seastead stationed off Phuket south-east coast today, belonging to an American bitcoin investor and seasteading innovators Ocean Builders.

Thai authorities plan to seize the structure as evidence in a criminal case. They fear the structure will continue to be a navigation hazard if left there.

US national Chad Elwartowski and his Thai girlfriend, Supranee Thepdet (aka Nadia Summergirl), are facing charges of threatening the Kingdom’s sovereignty. Last Sunday officials from the Royal Thai Navy and Phuket Maritime boarded the structure saying it violated Article 119 of the Criminal Code and also posed a navigational hazard.

The couple launched the ‘Ocean Builders’ seastead on February 2 off the coast of Phuket. The structure is located to the southeast of Koh Racha Yai, approximately 12 nautical miles (22.2 kilometres) from the mainland.

Elwartowski has claimed that his seastead is outside Thailand’s territorial waters, but Thai authorities insist that it violates Article 119 and challenges Thailand’s territorial rights.

“The Royal Thai Navy has full authority and duty to protect national interest and marine sovereignty in the area,” according to a Navy spokesperson.

Regarding the couple’s claim that they feared for their lives, Vice Admiral Sitthiporn Maskasem, commander of the Third Naval Area, said that authorities had followed the legal procedures.

“We are neither hunting them down nor threatening them,” said the commander.

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North East

Forecast drought will weaken the Thai economy

The Thaiger

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Forecast drought will weaken the Thai economy | The Thaiger

Thailand suffers calamities at both ends of the annual weather spectrum – both drought and flood. But as the demands on agriculture grow, with a growing population and the rise of tourists and development, the effects of these two extremes are becoming more apparent.

Which leads us to this year’s outlook of lower rains which is exposing the poor management of the Kingdom’s water resources. Greater development and growing population bases hasn’t been met with more or larger water catchments.

So Thai farmers are expected to face a tough 2019 as forecasters say the drought will be more acute than usual, lowering the water levels in reservoirs in the central and northeastern provinces especially.

Int eh south, Phuket, Thailand’s largest island and surrounded by water, has an acute water shortage as of Songkran and, without adequate monsoonal rain between now and November, will be facing a water crisis if it has to rely on its own island resources.

The Director General of Department of Agricultural Extension Samran Saraban says the drought this year is exacerbated by El-Nino weather cycle which causes temperature to rise 1-2 degrees higher than normal and cause the water levels in major reservoirs to drop to worrisome level. Higher temperatures mean more evaporation and more usage of reserves.

The Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has called for farmers not to grow off-season rice as drought is predicted to spread into northeastern and eastern regions. That there will likely be a new administration coping with political instability will not help leaders focus on the country’s looming water shortage.

The long dry season will lower certain farm outputs, pushing up their prices. However, an overall farm income is set to decline because the drought will leave other negative affects to farmers who are also the consumers as well. This will affect the purchasing power of farm households, which account for one-third of Thais.

Etc, etc, etc.

Economists estimated the damage from the drought on the economy this year could be high. Kasikorn Research Center estimate the drought could cost at least 15.3 billion baht. Whilst Anusorn Tamajai, Dean of Economics Faculty, Rangsit University, estimates the drought to cost even more – 20-30 billion baht -because it would affect the outputs of off-season rice, sugarcane and tapioca.

“It will dampen the purchasing power of farmers in the second quarter.”

Siam Commercial Bank’s Economic Intelligence chief Yanyong Thaicharoen said that the lackluster farm income can slash the growth rate of domestic consumption this year to 3.5% versus 4.6% growth last year, in addition to other factors, namely, high household debt and slower demand for durable goods.

Spending power from farmers, according to SCB, is crucial to sustain the growth of the economy. However, the grassroots economy is bracing for negative outlook this year.

There will be intense pressure on this season’s management of Thailand’s valuable water resources, through the remaining hot season and as the catchments gather water during the monsoon.

Forecast drought will weaken the Thai economy | News by The Thaiger

SOURCES: Thai PBS | The Thaiger | Wikipedia

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People

Patong’s trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal

The Thaiger

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Patong’s trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Patong Police / Theeraphong Penmit / Newshawk Phuket

A Phuket boy has been rewarded after setting an excellent example for the rest of the Patong community.

8 year old Kosin Ta-ngam, who is studying at Sai Nam Yen School in Patong in Pratom Suksa Three, has been collecting garbage in the filthy Pak Bang Canal and along Patong Beach since the beginning of this year.

He lives with his grandmother and other relatives. His grandmother has been looking after Kosin since he was 10 months old.

A certificate, scholarship and life vest have been awarded to Kosin by the Patong Police Chief Col Anothai Jindamanee for displaying excellent citizen for the community as a youth volunteer and being an active part of keeping the city clean.

The Pak Bang Canal, running through the back of Patong into Patong Bay, has been a dark, dirty mess for decades. Many promises have been made to clean it up but it remains a disgraceful waterway flowing through Phuket’s main tourist town.

The tiny eight year old seems to be able to achieve a lot more than the local municipality with all their money and machinery.

Kosin, you are the Thaiger hero for today and we salute you!

Patong's trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | News by The Thaiger

Patong's trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | News by The Thaiger Patong's trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | News by The Thaiger Patong's trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | News by The Thaiger Patong's trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | News by The Thaiger

Patong's trash hero rewarded for collecting garbage in filthy canal | News by The Thaiger

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