Tsunami alarm drill set for December 16

PHUKET: The National Disaster Warning Center (NDWC) will conduct a simultaneous test of all Information and Communications Ministry (ICT) tsunami warning towers in the Andaman provinces on December 16, Suranand Vejjajiva, Minister Attached to the Prime Minister’s Office, has announced. The timing of the test has yet to be set.

K. Suranand made the announcement at a meeting on Tuesday with the Governors of Phuket and Phang Nga Provinces and Vice-Governors from Krabi, Ranong and Trang, during which he was brought up to date on the status of tsunami warning systems and evacuation plans in the five provinces.

“The NDWC will set off the alarms as if it were a real situation, so that we can be sure that it works for local people and tourists,” K. Suranand said.

“In Khao Lak, there are now four [ICT] warning towers linked with the NDWC, which will also alert Radio Thailand so they can issue warnings. However, we must hurry to have evacuation signs erected by December 15.

“In addition, in each province, we must coordinate with places such as hotels and resorts to make sure they have tsunami warning alarms fitted, linked direct to the NDWC, because most tourists stay in hotels.”

He added that the detector buoy system to be set up in the Andaman Sea will be operational about the middle of next year. “This world-standard system will give us about one hour’s warning to evacuate all local people and tourists.

“We have allocated 93 million baht for setting up this system. When it is complete we will also be able warn other countries bordering the Indian Ocean,” he said.

K. Suranand explained that three ICT warning towers are operational in Patong, and that some 24 towers in total will be installed throughout the tsunami-affected provinces.

“We have chosen where 24 warning towers will be installed, focusing mainly on places damaged last year. And as the local administrative bodies have most of the budget [to build them] they should be complete soon,” K. Suranand said.

Phuket Governor Udomsak Uswarangkura said that he expected all the ICT warning towers in Phuket to ready by December 16.

“In addition to these, the Phuket Provincial Administration Organization (OrBorJor) has built 12 lookout towers at Phuket beaches, and the Royal Thai Navy will build 18 more lookout towers around the island,” Gov Udomsak said.

“And the NDWC, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and the OrBorJor will hurry to finish posting evacuation signs and building tsunami shelters,” he added.

Phang Nga Governor Vinai Buapradit said that eight of the 16 ICT Ministry warning towers in mainland Phang Nga will be complete by the end of this month, with more towers on islands in the province to be completed no later than February.

Nine more towers will be erected around the province, he said, and one warning tower linked with the NDWC has already been installed at Baan Nam Khem.

“The evacuation signs must be finished before December 26 because that day is first anniversary of the tsunami, and I want shelters built because Phang Nga is flat land, which means people cannot escape a tsunami. There will be five tsunami shelters built on the mainland and three more on islands, together costing about 25 million baht,” he said.

Phuket News

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