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Phuket Airport to stage disaster drill

PHUKET: A full-scale, emergency-response drill will take place at Phuket International Airport on Thursday as part of Phuket Airport’s Emergency Plan Exercise 2007 (PEMEX 2007).

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Phuket International Airport Director Sq Ldr Pornchai Eua-aree said the exercise, to begin at 10 am, is being co-organized by Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT).

Taking part will be 14 agencies, all of which could be called upon to assist in an emergency at the airport. These include the airport fire and emergency rescue team; airport security; air-traffic control as well as medical personnel from Thalang Hospital and Bangkok Hospital Phuket.

K. Pornchai said an annual safety drill is part of standard operating procedure at all airports in Thailand.

This year’s drill will involve the mock scenario of an Airbus A300-600 requesting emergency landing at the airport due to an engine malfunction. Once safely on the ground, the aircraft and its passengers will be given assistance from the fire department and rescue units.

An actual Airbus A300-600 will land at Phuket Airport, after which time there will be a mock fire and explosion. The fire department and rescue units will then implement their emergency response strategies according to the PEMEX 2007 plan.

Should everything go to plan, each passenger caught up in the mock disaster will be led to safety and the mock fire “put out” before the situation can turn serious. Smoke will be used to simulate fire, while mannequins will be used in the role of passengers.

The aim of the exercise is to ensure that the agencies involved can work together efficiently and boost public confidence in airport safety procedures.

Passenger traffic through Phuket International Airport continues to increase every year. In September 2006 the airport served more than 400,000 incoming and outgoing passengers. The airport now serves about five million passengers annually, K. Pornchai said.

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