Japanese tsunami warning plan outlined

PHUKET: Japanese seismologists have recommended that a Japanese tsunami early warning system be installed in the deep ocean and linked to beaches along the Andaman coast of Thailand that were hit by the December 26 tsunami.

The Tokyo University team, led by Professor Kimiro Meguro, unveiled the proposal during a meeting today at Phuket Provincial Hall with Vice-Governor Supachai Yuvaboon.

The scientists plan to present the results of a survey they have made of local beaches to the Japanese government, with a view to the having Tokyo work with the Thai government on installing the system.

Prof Meguro said the early warning system put forward by his colleagues would be smaller than the one the Thai government plans to install, and that it would be cheaper and easier to maintain.

Prof Meguro said the system would employ buoys floating in the ocean. These buoys would carry equipment to measure the speed of waves and transfer this data via satellite to bases on the beaches. Each buoy would cost between 50 million and 70 million baht to install.

“After setting up this system, we will receive data every day, such as the speed of the waves in the sea and weather conditions. This data will enable us to forecast [tsunamis] and allow time for people to be evacuated to a safe place.”

He said, “This is the same as the buoy system already installed in the Pacific Ocean, which has warned people [on the Pacific rim] and given them time to escape tsunamis.

“Only a few Japanese people have died in tsunamis since the system was installed, compared with the huge numbers who died before.”

Prof Meguro also recommended that beach-side businesses in Phuket and Phang Nga, such as hotels and restaurants, should contribute towards the cost of the system, as this would mean it could be installed far sooner than if funding had to be obtained from Bangkok.

He added, “These businesses would benefit from the system.They would be able to use it to reassure tourists that the beaches are safe.”

Meanwhile, Thai meteorologist Peerapol Beekkhuntod has appealed for calm after a rumor spread that some vast disaster will befall Thailand on Saturday (March 12).

“After examining weather conditions abroad and in Thailand, we have found nothing abnormal, and can find no scientific foundation for this rumour,” said K. Peerapol.

Phuket News
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