PM to attend evacuation drill in Patong

PHUKET CITY: Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and ambassadors from some 40 nations are expected to be on hand to witness tomorrow’s evacuation drill in Patong.

At a meeting held yesterday morning at The Metropole hotel, Pongpow Ketthong, Deputy Director-General of the national Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department (DPMD), said Patong’s evacuation plan was now 95% complete and that it would be fully complete after a review of the evacuation, which will be videotaped.

The drill, to begin at 10 am tomorrow morning (April 29), is intended to ensure that there will never be a repeat of the December 26 tsunami disaster, when hundreds of residents and tourists died needlessly in Patong because they were unaware of the impending danger.

The drill will cover two of Patong’s seven evacuation zones.

The first zone covers the southern end of Patong Beach, from the bridge crossing Klong Pakbang to Soi Kepsap.

Three evacuation routes have been designated for this zone:

– Over the bridge to safety on the headland near Coral Beach Hotel;

– Via Prachananukro Rd to higher ground near the three-way intersection with Nanai Rd;

– Along Soi Ruam Jai, past the Holiday Inn to the OTOP Shopping Arcade on Rat-U-Thit 200 Pi Rd.

The second zone covers the area from Soi Kebsup to Soi Bangla.

The two evacuation routes in this zone will already be familiar with after-hours revelers and massage buffs:

– Along Soi Bangla to Soi Saensabai.

– Along Soi Patong Tower, then turning right to the Christin Massage Parlor.

The focal point of the evacuation drill will be at the National Disaster Warning Center siren tower, on the beach in front of the Phuket Cabana Hotel.

An estimated 1,500 volunteers are expected to assist government officials and rescue personnel in conducting the drill, which will include a fly-in by helicopters of Navy rescue teams based in Chalong and at Phuket Airport.

All residents of the area are being asked to participate in the evacuation, though it was not reported what steps, if any, are being taken to ensure people do take part, or to prevent looting during the exercise, which is aimed at having the entire coast cleared in 30 minutes.

K. Pongpow said his agency had already held seminars with local leaders of other communities regarding evacuation plans and survival strategies in the event of another tsunami.

The Phuket Office of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation intends to organize similar evacuation drills and other safety training activities every three to six months, he said.

“Even if we have another tsunami, or even 10 more tsunamis, we will be able to prevent the deaths of residents and tourists if we have an efficient warning system and evacuation plan in place – and tourists will then be assured of their safety when visiting Phuket,” he said.

The evacuation plan was drawn up jointly by the DPMD and the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC), whose representative Dr Seree Suphatrid co-chaired the meeting with K. Pongpow.

Phuket News
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