Tsunami buoy warning would be “too late’ – Smith

PHUKET: Because of its location, the lone tsunami direct detection buoy deployed last month in the middle of the Indian Ocean would offer little advance warning to Phuket in the event of another tsunami generated off the Indonesian Coast, Dr Smith Dharmasaroja, head of the National Disaster Warning Center (NDWC) in Nonthaburi, has told the Gazette.

Dr Smith said that the location of the first buoy was chosen so that it would provide equal benefit to all Indian Ocean Rim countries, not just Thailand. “I made the suggestion that we put the first buoy there so that we wouldn’t appear selfish by putting our own data needs before that of other countries in the region,” he said.

However, Dr Smith said that the location of the first buoy, halfway between Thailand and Sri Lanka and about 1,000 kilometers from Phuket, would give little advance warning to Phuket in the event of another tsunami generated along the fault zone that runs along Indonesia’s west coast.

The buoy is located about the same distance to the west of the fault line as Phuket is to its east. As a result, by the time a west-moving wave were detected by the buoy, its east traveling counterpart would already be inundating Thailand’s Andaman Coast.

Dr Smith said the previous government had an approved budget proposal to buy three more buoys from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. These were to be deployed in a line about 200km off the Andaman Coast, between the fault line and Thailand.

However, he expressed doubt that the interim government would move forward with the project as it has not supported the NDWC’s work.

“We may need to wait until a democratically-elected government is elected and installed,” he said.

Phuket News

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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