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Expert panel to lead Phuket tsunami memorial activities



PHUKET: A panel of experts led by Dr Smith Dharmasaroj, former head of the National Disaster Warning Center, will stage a public discussion on disaster management as part of the tsunami memorial services on December 26 this year.

Dr Smith, also a former head of the Thai Meteorological Department, is renowned as the man who warned the Thai government to take precautionary measures against natural disasters – and specifically tsunamis – long before the killer waves struck the shores of Phuket on December 26, 2004.

The discussion, focusing on the theme “Disaster Learning Model: What do Thai Children Learn from Natural Disaster”, will be in the Thai language only.

The forum will be part of the activities held at Loma Park in Patong organized by the Phuket Provincial Administrative Organization (OrBorJor).

“There will also be a forum concerning the future of Thailand and the tsunami by Assoc Prof Dr Seree Supharatid, director of Rangsit University’s Climate Change and Disaster Center,” said OrBorJor President Paiboon Upatising.

To close the public forums on the day, Dilok Utanut, an expert in disaster contingency planning development, will lead a discussion focusing on the role of the Climate Change and Disaster Centers in monitoring tsunamis, he added.

Memorial services on the day will start with a multi-faith ceremony at the Tsunami Wall of Remembrance in Mai Khao at 8am.

“Those who lost loved ones and people who live in the area will join with community leaders at the ceremony, which will include Buddhist, Muslim and Christian services,” said Raywat Sombatthong of Mai Khao Administration Organization (OrBorTor).

“The ceremony will end with the attendees laying flowers at the wall under the names of the countries which lost nationals in the 2004 tsunami here in Phuket,” he added.

The traditional “Light Up Phuket” candle-lit ceremony will be held on Patong Beach, starting at 6pm.

“We will dig a small trench for three kilometers along Patong Beach where people can place a lit candle to pay their respects,” said Mr Paiboon.

In announcing the schedule of activities to commemorate the victims of the 2004 tsunami, Phuket Governor Tri Augkaradacha reminded the press, “In the six provinces along the Andaman coast – namely Phuket, Phang Nga, Krabi, Ranong, Trang and Satun – 5,395 people died and 2,817 people, including Thais and foreigners, went missing on that day.”

— Warisa Temram


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