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Phuket hosts full-scale tsunami drill



PHUKET: A total of about 300 emergency-response officers from Phuket and Phang Nga joined forces to stage a full-scale tsunami evacuation and sea rescue drill off the northern tip of Phuket yesterday.

The drill started with the sounding of the tsunami warning alarm, prompting the officers from the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) in Phuket and Phang Nga to leap into action.

Joining the co-ordinated exercise were first responders from hospitals, rescue foundations, local administrative organizations (OrBorTor), police, Marine Police and the Royal Thai Navy.

“The entire exercise took about three hours,” said DDPM-Phuket Operations chief Udomporn Karn.

“Every department handled the rescue situation very well and was on alert to play their part,” he added.

The drill simulated a response to a tsunami striking the coast after a major earthquake off the northern tip of Sumatra in Indonesia – the real-life factors that triggered the tsunami in 2004.

“People taking part in the exercise were evacuated to safety zones set up at the Mai Khao OrBorTor offices in Phuket and the Baan Thanun OrBorTor offices in Phang Nga,” Mr Udomporn explained.

After the tsunami drill, the officers conducted an earthquake evacuation drill, responding to a simulated quake that cracks the three bridges joining Phuket to the Thai mainland, causes car accidents and leaves 20 people injured.

In the drill, officers from Thai Navy Third Area Command used a helicopter to search for and rescue survivors.

“With both exercises now over, we will call in our teams and summarize the problems we encountered today and review what measures need to be taken in order to improve our response,” Mr Udomporn said.

— Orawin Narabal


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