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New tsunami buoys off Phuket by new year: NDWC

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: Two new Italian-built tsunami direct detection units will be installed off Phuket by the end of the year, the National Disaster Warning Center (NDWC) has revealed.

NDWC Director Somsak Khaosuwan said the two units, known as “tsunameters”, will be located about 400 to 500 kilometers offshore.

Although the exact locations have yet to be determined, one of the units will likely be deployed west of Phuket while the other will be further north near the Surin Islands, he said.

“We will deploy them as soon as possible to ensure the safety of residents and tourists along Thailand’s Andaman coastline,” said Dr Somsak, who has been promoted to director of the NDWC after serving as its director of operations for more than a year.

The launch mission is scheduled to depart from the Phuket Marine Biological Center pier on December 11.

The two new “Poseidon Class” tsunameters, built by the Italian firm Envirtech, will be deployed under a total budget of about 135 million baht, he said.

Envirtech in June 2006 installed two tsunameters in the Bay of Bengal under a contract with the Indian Government.

Like the Indian tsunameters, real-time data from the units will not be available to the public through the US Government’s National Data Buoy Center website, however.

“The public will be able to monitor data in real time, but through a different website. We will announce the website URL to the public after the unit is in place and operational,” Dr Khaosuwan said.

Thailand is currently without tsunami direct detection capability.

Its first tsunameter, supplied by the US government through its National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), was deployed about 1,100 kilometers northwest of Phuket in December 2006.

It was the only operational unit in the Indian Ocean linked to the US Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) network.

After its deployment in 2006, maintenance of the Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis unit, or “DART-II”, fell to the Thai Meteorological Department (TMD). The buoy was designed to have maintenance and a change of battery every year, but political and bureaucratic issues in Thailand prevented this from ever happening.

The battery finally ran out in June 2009.

The entire unit was replaced six months later by a new tsunameter supplied under an NDWC contract with Bangkok-based firm Raydant International, which also built and operates the network of over 100 tsunami warning towers in the Andaman Coast region.

But the Raydant DART-II unit went adrift in June this year and has yet to be replaced. Vandalism from a fishing vessel was given as the most likely cause, according to Raydant management.

Raydant General Manager Aurasa Paenghom said the NOAA DART-II buoy is currently undergoing maintenance in the USA, while the Raydant unit is in storage at the naval base in Phang Nga.

The Raydant unit will be redeployed in its former location as soon as possible after a new mooring line on order from abroad is delivered, she said.

“The first buoy was sent to the US four months ago and should have been returned by now. As for the second unit that was damaged, we expect the replacement mooring line to arrive in December ahead of redeployment in January,” she said.

Raydant plans to swap out the two units year after year so that maintenance can be done on shore.

NDWC Director Dr Somsak said the public should not be unduly worried about the current lack of tsunami direct detection capability.

The NDWC still has access to water level data from the Royal Thai Navy’s water level monitor at its station on Koh Miang in the Similan Island chain, the PTWC network and other sources, he said.

“People should not worry about not having enough time to evacuate,” he said.

Dr Somsak sees eventually having three tsunameters operating under two different monitoring networks as an operational advantage.

“In case one system goes down, we will still have another to go through,” he said.

In a related development, Dr Somsak reiterated that NDWC never triggered a “false alarm” tsunami alert on the November 6, as has been reported in areas including Mai Khao and Kamala in Phuket and other sites in the Andaman coast region.

“I checked the situation as soon as I heard these reports. At first some said the sirens sounded at Ao Nang [in Krabi], some said in Nai Yang and Kamala, or even in Thai Muang [Phang Nga], but we couldn’t confirm soundings in any of these areas,” he said.

However, Phuket Governor Tri Augkaradacha, the president of Mai Khao Tambon Administration Organization (TAO) and the vice-president of Kamala TAO all confirmed to the Gazette that tsunami warning towers sounded on the date in question.

Tampering by local people might have been responsible if noises were heard from the speakers, Dr Somsak said.

Such tampering is known to have occurred in Phang Nga, where villagers hacked into the system to use the speakers for other purposes, he said.

Strong winds can also produce sounds that could be mistaken for a tsunami warning tower alarm, he said.

— P. Choksakulpan & S. Fein

 

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Phuket

Fishermen find space debris off the coast of Phuket

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo via Facebook/ Phuket Andaman News

Local fishermen found space debris, possibly from a satellite or space shuttle, on the seabed just 6 metres below the surface by Koh Ael in Phuket. At first, no one knew exactly what it was.

Specialists from a Navy explosive ordinance disposal unit were first called to look at the round, hollow metal object which was about 45 centimetres in diameter. 3rd Naval Area commander Vice Admiral Choengchai Chomchoengpaet told reporters at a press conference that the team took photos of the object and found it appeared to be a rocket fuel tank, possibly used to launch a satellite or shuttle into space. He said it matched photos online.

Both the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency, or GISTDA, and the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand, agree that the object was most likely a fuel tank for a rocket.

Since the fuel tanks usually contain harmful chemicals like ammonia or hydrogen, divers examined the space debris to make sure there were no chemical leaks before bringing the object to shore and taken to the navy headquarters. The space debris will be taken to the GISTDA to be studied.

“If other objects similar to this one are found elsewhere, people should not touch them. They could contain hazardous chemicals. They should immediately inform Region 3 Thai-MECC or local officials.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Phuket

Phuket police search for foreigners who were seen drinking beer at a restaurant

Tanutam Thawan

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Stock photo by Tembela Bohle for Pexels

Phuket officials are serious about disease control orders banning parties and gatherings with friends, especially when alcohol is involved. They’re so serious, that apparently they’re searching for 4 foreigners who were seen drinking beers at a restuarant in Rawai.

Police raided the restaurant yesterday at a complaint from a woman who works for the local district office. She was out on a campaign pushing for locals to wear face masks when she noticed that some people were sitting at the Roxanne restuarant, having a beer. Photos as well as a video was sent to the police showing a group of 4 foreign men and 2 Thai women sitting at the restaurant together.

Along with police officers, local officials from the Muang District Office and Rawai Municipality showed up to the restuarant. Reports say the men were seen driving off on motorcycles just as as the team of 10 officers and public officials arrived. The beer was still on the table when police arrived.

Officers took the owner of the restaurant and 4 of the employees to the Chalong Police Station. The owner is facing charges of breach of the provincial order banning the sale of alcohol and allowing the consumption of alcohol on the premises.

Just last week, police raided a home in Cherngtalay, breaking up a gathering of 6 people. 2 men from the UK who work in Phuket were taken to the police station and fined 6,000 baht whilst police were still waiting for another 4 people to present themselves at the police station.

As part of the disease control measures to contain the spread of Covid-19, preparing Phuket for a possible Covid and quarantine-free reopening in July, officials have banned social activities and gatherings, with the expection of traditional events like funerals. Phuket authorities have warned that foreign residents who break the rules could be subject to being deported.

SOURCE: Phuket News

Phuket police search for foreigners who were seen drinking beer at a restaurant | News by Thaiger

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

12 Covid-19 violators busted drinking on Patong Beach

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: A group drinking on the beach was arrested for violating Covid-19 restrictions. (via Freepik)

12 violators of Covid-19 restrictions, of Thai and foreign origin, have been arrested and taken into custody by police for gathering and drinking in public on Patong Beach. The Covid-19 measures currently in place in Phuket ban all get-togethers involving alcohol, limiting the number that can drink together to just 2 people. The group were arrested for violating this order and for drinking in public.

According to the police the group had 3 foreign men in it along with 5 Thai women and 3 Thai ladyboys, so for those keen at maths the details of the 12th person were not revealed. The Covid-19 rule violators were arrested Friday night in Patong on the walkway along the beach on Thaweewong Road, the popular beachfront road.

Police noted the specifics of their liquor stash, confirming that the group had 2 bottles and 8 cans of Thai beer, 2 imported beers, 4 wine coolers, 4 soda waters, and 2 bottles of Thai liquor. The stash was confiscated by the police.

The perpetrators were brought to Phuket town to the Phuket City Police Station. There they were met by the Phuket Vice governors and medical personnel from Vachira Phuket Hospital. The medics administered swab sample Covid-19 test to each member of the group of restriction violators.

The Vice Governor reminded people that these restrictions were put in place after more than 20 people tested positive for Covid-19 from a small group of people drinking together. That is why the regulations allow just two people together when alcohol is involved. He stressed that police and government officials have been instructed to crack down on violators to try to quickly curb the spread of Covid-19 for a chance at reopening to international tourism July 1st.

Officials asked the public to work together to attempt to eliminate the spread of Covid-19 in Phuket and instructed anybody who sees violators of the Covid-19 restrictions to contact the police immediately. Sentence and fine details were not yet available for the group of 12.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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