Tsunami evacuation drills planned for July 25

PHUKET CITY: The National Disaster Warning Center (NDWC), together with provincial and local authorities, will conduct the first full-scale test of its 79-tower tsunami warning system in the six Andaman Coast provinces on the morning of July 25.

The exercise has been dubbed “Andaman Wave 007” by the agency.

To prepare for the test, which will include evacuation drills in all 19 tsunami-risk areas of Phuket, Phuket Vice-Governor Tri Augkaradacha chaired a meeting at the Phuket Provincial Health Office on July 11.

The evacuation drills will be organized by district offices, with the exception of Patong, where the municipality will be responsible.

The alarms will sound at 9:30 am and will be followed by the evacuation drills. The areas, along with Patong, include:

Muang district: Ao Yon, Kata, Karon, Kata Noi, Nai Harn, Rawai, Koh Lone, Koh Racha, and Ao Chalong.

Thalang district: Nai Yang, Bang Tao and Lay Phang, Mai Khao, Ao Por.

Kathu district: Kamala Beach.

The testing will include siren sounds as well as voice messages in Thai and English triggered by officials at the NDWC headquarters in Nonthaburi.

A previously scheduled regional testing scheduled for April 30 was canceled at the last minute, leading to widespread speculation that the satellite links were not functioning properly.

NDWC Director Dr Smith Dharmasaroja vigorously dismissed these claims, saying that the cancellation was necessary because local authorities had failed to inform people in their locales and the NDWC did not want to create a public panic.

However, he also told the Gazette that it was unrealistic to expect all of the towers to function perfectly during the drill and the NDWC will welcome feedback from the public about the July 25 drill through its hotline number 1860.

Some 40 independent observers, including members of international organizations such as the Red Cross, are expected to attend and the evacuation will be broadcast live from several locations by Thai TV Channel 11, he said.

Dr Smith also told the Gazette that he will continue to press the Information and Communications Ministry to get the Cabinet to approve funding by year’s end for two more direct-detection buoys to be deployed off Thailand’s Andaman coast.

The detection buoy now sited in the middle of the Indian Ocean is too far on the opposite side of the Java Trench subduction zone to be of much use to Thailand should another tsunami-producing earthquake occur in the same area as the Boxing Day earthquake in 2004, he admitted.

Phuket News

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