New tsunami buoys on the Phuket horizon

PHUKET CITY: Phuket could soon get more tsunami direct detection buoys similar to those installed along the Indian coastline earlier this year.

The president of the National Disaster Warning Center (NDWC), Surawong Tientong, was on the island this week and met with Phuket Governor Wichai Phraisa-ngop to discuss the proposal.

The first tsunami direct detection buoy in the Indian Ocean, funded by the US government’s USAID program, was deployed by Thailand in December 2006.

The buoy, connected to a pressure sensor on the sea bed, is located about 600 nautical miles northwest of Phuket.

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However, a check of the buoy’s webpage indicates that it is no longer transmitting data to NDWC and the Meteorological Department, which is responsible for its maintenance.

The only remaining buoy in the Indian Ocean relaying data to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) system is a drifting buoy that only gives atmospheric data.

Without direct detection, the NDWC must rely on seismic data alone when deciding whether to issue a tsunami warning though its satellite-based early warning system.

Phuket currently has 19 tsunami warning towers, which will now be tested every week.

The national anthem will be broadcast through the tower speakers every Wednesday morning to ensure they are working properly.

The NDWC team also met with the Deputy Mayor of Patong, Chairat Sukbaan, who asked them to help overturn the government’s recent decision to cut the budget set aside for tsunami evacuation training.

Mr Chairat said the training needed to take place at least twice a year.

Mr Surawong assured Mr Chairat that he would do whatever he could to convince the government to restore the budget.

— Khunakorn Terdkiatkhachorn

Phuket News
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