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Phuket tsunami buoy won’t be redeployed in 2010



PHUKET: Thailand’s Andaman Coast will be without tsunami direct detection capability when the sixth anniversary of the 2004 disaster arrives in late December, the Gazette has learned.

Aurasa Paenghom, general manager of Bangkok-based firm Raydant International, which built and maintains Thailand’s tsunami early warning system, estimates that it will take several months before the tsunami buoy that went adrift in early June can be redeployed in its old position, 600 nautical miles northwest of Phuket.

Raydant, which runs the system under a contract with the National Disaster Warning Center, said the company has already placed a request with the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) for funds to purchase 4,500 meters of replacement cable to moor the buoy to the seabed some 3,000 meters beneath the surface.

Once funding is approved, the special cable must be manufactured abroad and shipped to Thailand. It will take the company three months to produce the cable and another month for shipping, she said.

Ms Aurasa thinks the damage to the buoy suggests that a large vessel tied up to it, causing the cable to snap under the increased force. The buoy itself was not badly damaged, she said.

The mishap reduces to zero the number of functioning tsunami direct detection units off the Thai coast.

The Indian government has installed a small network off its coast, but it is not part of the US Government’s National Data Buoy Center, which allows anyone to monitor water column and tsunami event data in real time over the Internet.

Three high-tech tsunami direct detection units were donated to Thailand and Indonesia by the US government after the tsunami, but all are now either lost or inoperable due to damage or lack of maintenance.

The original Thai buoy fell silent after going three years without a battery change, even though the unit was designed to require a new battery every year.

It was replaced late last year by a new buoy paid for by the Thai government, just in time for the fifth anniversary of the tsunami.

— Pimwara Choksakulpan


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