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Phuket stages full-scale tsunami drill

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket stages full-scale tsunami drill | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: Scores of emergency rescue workers from all over Phuket took part in two hours of search-and-rescue drills at Saphan Hin this morning.

The drill was intended to improve the ability of staff to react in an effective and organized fashion in the event of a disaster by giving them practical experience using rescue equipment and coordinating efforts among the various agencies involved.

Participation was limited to emergency medical and rescue personnel, along with a small number of volunteers.

Phuket Governor Tri Augkaradacha presided over the 9am opening ceremony for the event, which saw training for numerous organizations including:

– Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM), Phuket office;

– Phuket Provincial Health Office (PPHO);

– Phuket DMAT (Disaster Medical Assist Team), which has units from all six hospitals in Phuket;

– Royal Thai Navy, Third Area Command;

– Kusoldharm Foundation, Phuket Kupai Ruamjai Foundation, among others.

The drill followed a two-day training camp in “command post exercises” at the DDPM Academy in Phuket Town on Wednesday and Thursday.

The drills began with the remote sounding of the nearby National Disaster Warning Center (NDWC) warning tower.

Once the signal began, workers rushed to set up an operations center and field hospital using inflatable tent structures provided by the Red Cross.

Meanwhile, a team of Navy Seals used a helicopter to pluck a mock victim from the sea and to take him for emergency medical treatment.

PPHO Deputy Director Wiwat Seetamanotch said, “Our field hospital can be set up in just 15 minutes. With 10 beds it can handle about 200 patients a day. Victims requiring surgery or overnight treatment will be sent to hospital.”

The training continued this afternoon at Phuket International Airport, where a staging area and field hospital were set up to coordinate evacuation to medical facilities aboard a specially-equipped C-130 transport plane operated by the Royal Thai Air Force Institute of Aviation Medicine.

“The drill is based on the scenario that all six Phuket hospitals are too crowded to provide treatment for all who require it, creating a need to evacuate victims to facilities in partner provinces,” Dr Wiwat said.

“This time we asked for cooperation from Nakhon Sri Thammarat, which was undamaged from the [hypothetical] tsunami. In an emergency, patients will be airlifted by C-130 to field hospitals at airports in those provinces, then rushed to hospital for treatment,” he added.

The Nakhon Sri Thammarat unit is one of seven partners the Phuket unit can call upon in the event of an emergency. The others are provincial units in Chiang Rai, Udon Thani, Phetchaburi and Ayudhaya, as well as the Emergency Medical Institute and the Navy Medical Department, both in Bangkok, Dr Wiwat explained.

In addition to the drill, Gov Tri signed an MoU with five local companies willing to provide emergency relief supplies at short notice. The firms are: Coca-Cola distributor Haad Thip PCL, as well as retailers Supercheap, Big C, Tesco-Lotus and Makro.

Under the terms of the MoU, these firms will provide emergency food and drink supplies within an hour of request. It is the first MoU of its kind signed anywhere in Thailand, he added.

Also at the event today was a high-tech emergency communications van belonging to the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (MICT).

The MICT is currently developing communications and database technology to ensure an uninterrupted flow of information in Phuket in the aftermath of any disaster, Dr Wiwat said.

“The database system will allow us to search for appropriate agencies to handle any kind of disaster, such as chemical leaks or poisonous gas explosions. It should be completely ready by next year,” he said.

— Pimwara Choksakulpan

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

“Open the borders, safely”, Bill Heinecke, Minor International interview – VIDEO

The Thaiger

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“Open the borders, safely”, Bill Heinecke, Minor International interview – VIDEO | The Thaiger

Bill Heinecke speaks to Bill Barnett. The two heavy-hitters of Thailand’s hotel and hospitality sector, mull over the current Covid situation and the reopening of Thailand’s borders to some form of tourism. Bill Heinecke is the Chairman and Founder of Minor International.

Bill Barnett is the Managing Director of c9hotelworks.com

Now the Thai government has approved the special long-term tourist visa scheme (STV), hoteliers are remaining skeptical about reopening due to the lack of clarity in the recent announcement, which will reportedly take effect next month. The president of the Thai Hotels Association’s southern chapter says more hoteliers will consider reopening if the government gives further information about the plan in terms of prospective markets, arrival dates, origin countries, and flights.

Such details would allow hotels to prepare themselves ahead of time to offer services as alternative state quarantine premises as at least 60 hotels in Phuket are awaiting approval to operate such facilities.

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Bangkok

Now they’re coming… Special Tourist Visa flight set for Tuesday – Tourism and Sports Minister

Caitlin Ashworth

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Now they’re coming… Special Tourist Visa flight set for Tuesday – Tourism and Sports Minister | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Unsplash: Suhyeon Choi

After much confusion and a few apparent ‘misunderstandings’, Chinese tourists on the Special Tourist Visa will actually arrive on October 20 and 26. At least that’s what Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn says, according to the Bangkok Post. The first group is said to arrive 4 days from now in Bangkok (if they actually applied for the visa this time).

Reports circulated for weeks about a flight of 120 to 150 tourists set to arrive in Phuket on October 8 from Guangzhou, China. An announcement was made shortly after the flight was due to arrive with Tourism Authority Governor Yuthasak Supasorn saying “administrative issues” had caused the delay.

It was later reported that no one from Guangzhou had actually applied for the visa and it was all just a misunderstanding after the Tourism Authority of Thailand reportedly passed off a list of those “interested” in the visa as actual applications.

This time, the Post is reporting the first group of 120 tourists from Guangzhou will arrive at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport on Tuesday. Another group of 120 tourists, also from Guangzhou, will arrive on October 26, but the Post didn’t say where that flight will land.

It’s apparently the same group that was planned to arrive in Phuket on October 8, but the minister claims the trip was postponed due to the Vegetarian Festival which is planned to run until October 25. Both the Phuket governor and National Security Council secretary general had claimed the festival was the reason for the delayed flight and was intended to ease fears of Covid-19 for the festival-goers coming in from the rest of Thailand.

Even though the new long stay tourist visa is good for 90 days, and can be renewed twice, the tourists will only stay in the country for 30 days, with 14 of those days in quarantine. Phiphat says the Tourism Authority of Thailand will find activities to keep the tourists occupied while in quarantine.

The visitors will be the first international tourists after a 6 month ban to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Thai officials have been discussing plans for months about how to safely reopen borders to revive the country’s economy which is heavily driven by the tourism industry. Officals are now talking about cutting down the mandatory time for quarantine from 14 days to 7 days to help entice people to visit.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Phuket

Phuket to host Cabinet meeting to review proposals for reviving local economy

Maya Taylor

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Phuket to host Cabinet meeting to review proposals for reviving local economy | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikimedia

Government officials are to hold a Cabinet meeting in Phuket on November 2 and 3, when they will meet with local authorities and business owners to hear their suggestions on re-igniting the province’s decimated economy. Phuket has been hit particularly hard by the country’s borders being shut since late March, with the absence of international tourists dealing a hammer blow that some say will be felt for years to come.

The Bangkok Post reports that, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the province would generate over 400 billion baht in tourism revenue each year. Now, data from the Phuket Area Revenue Office shows that, between January and August, year on year tax revenue from the province has plummeted by over 46%.

In preparation for the November meeting with central government officials, Governor Narong Woonsiew has met with local business leaders. Narong says Phuket is currently completely reliant on domestic tourism, with the local economy devastated by the fallout from Covid-19 and the loss of internationals tourists. He says the government understands the difficulties being faced by the province and has chosen to have a Cabinet meeting there for that reason. He adds that he would like Bangkok officials to ask state agencies to hold meetings and conferences in Phuket, as one way of helping the local economy.

“Phuket is grateful that it is the Cabinet’s venue of choice. This gives us hope for economic recovery. We have experienced many economic hardships before, and we are discussing what to propose as immediate and long-term solutions to the Cabinet.”

Phuket is still hoping to welcome its first international tourists in over 6 months, under the new Special Tourist Visa scheme. The programme was officially launched on October 1, however, nobody seems sure when the first lot of foreign visitors availing of the visa are set to arrive. The much-talked about arrival of between 120 and 150 Chinese visitors, which was supposed to take place this month, turned out to be all for nothing, when it was revealed not a single Chinese national applied for the STV.

Nevertheless, Governor Narong says he expects the province to re-open for international tourism from October 25. That’s just over a week away. He adds that he would like PM Prayut Chan-o-cha to test Phuket’s readiness for managing STV arrivals, by undergoing all the procedures the province has put in place. He says the role-play could be filmed and used to increase tourists’ confidence that Phuket is well-equipped to prevent a resurgence of Covid-19 on the island.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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