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Tsunami warning system improvements stalled

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Tsunami warning system improvements stalled | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Plans for Thailand to launch two more “tsunameters” off the Andaman coastline to improve its tsunami warning system capability have become bogged down by red tape and technical problems, leaving only one direct detection unit in place as the fourth anniversary of the 2004 disaster nears.

Dr Smith Dharmasaroja, who chairs the committee that directs the Nonthaburi-based National Disaster Warning Center (NDWC), last weekend told the Gazette that the NDWC was budgeted 165 million baht for the two tsunami direct detection units in 2007.

When deployed about 250 to 300 kilometers off Phuket, they will greatly enhance the NDWC’s ability to detect and warn of an impending tsunami, he said.

Technically known as Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunami (Dart) monitoring systems, the state-of-the-art tsunameters consist of a pressure sensor on the ocean floor that relays data to a surface buoy equipped with satellite technology.

The units enable national agencies, such as the NDWC, to detect a tsunami and issue a warning in real time. They also eliminate the need for expensive, panic-inducing false alarms that can occur when warnings are issued based on seismic data alone.

Unfortunately, the contractor the NDWC is negotiating with to provide the two tsunameters is unable to meet the technical requirements that Thailand and India agreed to in their effort to set up a regional system, Dr Smith said.

Describing himself as “only an employee”, Dr Smith said the authority to move forward with the purchase rests with the ICT Ministry and its Meteorology Department, which must first approve all technical aspects and sign off on procurement.

Two “tsunameters” have been deployed in the Indian Ocean since the tsunami. The first, launched by Thailand and the US on December 1, 2006, in the middle of the Indian Ocean, is still functioning normally and providing date to the NDWC.

Last year Dr Smith confirmed the suspicions of a Gazette reporter that the location of the first tsunameter was too far west of the subduction zone where the last tsunami originated to be of real benefit to Phuket should another tsunami-producing earthquake occur there, because by the time the west-moving tsunami wave reaches the sensor, its east-moving counterpart would already have reached Phuket beaches.

However, Dr Smith described as inaccurate reports attributed to Dr Plodprasop Surasawadee who, as assistant minister of the Prime Minister’s Office, was quoted by a Bangkok-based English-language daily in May as saying that the first Thai tsunameter was not working at all.

Jakarta-based David McKinnie, of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) serving as a coordinator for the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System (IOTWS), also confirmed that the Thai tsunameter is still functioning normally.

“It is operating and providing full services to Thailand as well as other Indian Ocean nations,” he wrote the Gazette in an email. He encouraged readers to confirm this by visiting the website www.ndbc.noaa.gov/dart.shtml that displays monitoring data from the Thai station and many others from its global network.

He agreed, however, that the Dart unit needs better maintenance.”Under our agreement with Thailand, NDWC was to establish a maintenance contract for the system by December 2006. These systems need regular maintenance and the Thai station is long overdue for such routine work. We are concerned that no agreement is in place, though we understand NDWC and the Thai Meteorological Department are making progress in this area,” he wrote.

The second tsunameter, further south off the coast of Sumatra, is broken, he admitted.

“The second tsunameter deployed in partnership with Indonesia in September, 2007, was providing data to NDWC until it was vandalized by fishermen in March, 2008. We are working with Indonesian authorities to redeploy a tsunameter there as soon as possible,” he said.

“We know that NDWC is planning to purchase two additional tsunameters as well and that NDWC has issued a solicitation for procurement. Although we are aware of other elements of the Thai system, I do not have good information about NDWC plans for developing the Thai tsunami warning system or progress toward NDWC goals in this area,” he said.

Mr McKinnie also refutes claims that the location where the first Thai-US Dart unit was deployed was poorly chosen. In fact the siting is nearly optimal, he said.

“One of the basic siting considerations is that tsunami waves travel very fast in deep water and much more slowly in shallow water. The waters between Phuket and the Andamans are relatively shallow. The water from the source to the Dart station is relatively deep. A tsunami would reach the Dart station 1.5 to two hours before it would reach Phuket, thus the station provides a potential warning lead time of 1.5 to two hours. A tsunameter sited closer to Phuket would provide less, not more, lead time,” he wrote.

In a related development, Dr Smith confirmed that he is very worried about the possibility of a disaster in low-lying coastal parts of Bangkok and Samut Prakarn provinces should a storm similar to Cyclone Nargis, which devastated Burma’s Irrawaddy Delta region, make landfall and cause a storm surge there.

If such a tragedy did occur it would most likely happen between August and November, he said.

“It’s my duty to warn people of the danger. Whether or not they choose to believe me is up to their own judgment,” said Dr Smith.

As a former director of the Meteorological Department, Dr Smith lobbied the government of the time, in vain, to address the dangers of a tsunami  years before the 2004 disaster.

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Crime

Mystery surrounds security guard found dead in his Phuket room

The Thaiger

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Mystery surrounds security guard found dead in his Phuket room | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Phuket Hot News

The security guard of a hotel in Nai Yang, northern Phuket, 52 year old Yingyot Butsabong, from Maha Sarakham province, was found dead yesterday (October 16) in his room. Police remain mystified how the man came to grief.

A woman named Supattra received a call from the hotel he worked at and was informed that he didn’t show up at work yesterday, so she went to his apartment to check on him.

She saw that his room was locked from the inside, so used the key she had in her possession to open the room and found Yingyot laying on the floor, face down. She thought he was just sleeping so she tried to wake him up but once she flipped him, she found that he already passed away.

She immediately called Saku police, and once on the scene, police found that there was some blood on the floor. The man had a 2 centimetre wound on his left eyebrow which was deep into his skull. There was also a wound on his chin about 1 centimetre long and about a centimetre deep. His left eye had a bruise which looked like he was attacked by a hard object.

Police report that he had been dead for around four hours in the room.

The room was not ransacked and there was no sign of fighting or theft. His body has been sent to Thalang Hospital for a detailed autopsy and to look into the cause of death.

SOURCE: Phuket Hot News

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People

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people

Nattha Thepbamrung

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‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | The Thaiger

On October 18, the ‘Always Smile Journey’ group and its partners will host an exhibition with plenty of fun activities at the Yak Yai Market, near Chalong Circle, in Phuket. This event was designed to raise funds to provide free English classes for underprivileged people on the island of Phuket on Saturdays and Sundays. The group does not accept donations but aims to raise money through the sales of the products available at the event.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

From 2 pm to 8 pm, there will be a number of artists, musicians and performers who will keep the attendees entertained along the way. There will be a short film about His Majesty King Rama 9 as well as fun activities and games for kids and families, which are all free of charge.

The big bike crew is also a part of this event. They will ride a parade from Rawai Beach heading to the market and showcase their gorgeous two-wheel buddies.

One of the highlights of the Always Smile Journey exhibition is the ‘Happening’ artists group, who will draw and paint a picture of the His Majesty King Rama 9 under the name ‘Street Art King Bhumibol’ on a 4×10 meter sign live at the event so the guests will experience this large-scale art in action. The Happening will also offer portrait sketching for the participants.

‘Always Smile Journey’ raises fund to provide free English classes for underprivileged people | News by The Thaiger

One of the works created by the Happening team; a painting of HM the King Rama 9 on a huge wall (Photo credit: Chawat Chumpasan)

There will also be some western menus available at the event which will be donated to underprivileged children.

This free English class project has over seven years of experience through its cooperation working with individuals and other charity organizations. Throughout the years, the group visited several areas such as Ban Laem Hoy School, Ban Bopud School and Ban Angthong School in Samui, Surat Thani province, Ban Bueng Ao Oun School and Ban Kakoh Rayong, in Surin province, Jalae Village of Lahu (Muser) in Chiang Rai province, as well as community education centers in Siem Reap, Cambodia and in Luang Prabang, in Laos.

This event is a cooperation between several groups, including Happening, Yak Yai Market and Arrow Media, Tattoo artist group, Thonburi Art School Alumni, International School of Tourism, Suratthani Rajabhat University, big bike group from Phuket, artists/performers/musicians from many provinces as well as several businesses across Phuket.

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Bangkok

The world’s fastest growing tourist destinations

The Thaiger

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The world’s fastest growing tourist destinations | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Hello Phuket – destined for huge tourist growth in the next six years – fodors.com

In 2018, international tourist arrival traffic grew by 6% to reach a total of 1.4 billion world tourists, according to research by UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. And there’s a lot more to come with international travel predicted to increase by a massive 35% over the next six years to 2025.

But where is all that extra traffic going to go? Which destinations are quiet now that might be swarming with tourists in the years to come? Two destinations in Thailand are set for a prosperous future, according to the data. Whilst almost all the growth is excepted to be to Asian destinations, an under-visited resource for world tourism so far.

Euromonitor data has been used to simulate tourist growth models and reveal the fastest growing projected visitor arrivals in major cities and destinations around the world for 2025, compared to arrival figures in 2018.

In Thailand, Phuket’s tourist traffic is poised to increase up to 85% in the next six years, from nearly 12 million arrivals in 2018 to over 22 million in 2025. Bangkok is predicted to see the 8th most prolific rise in tourist traffic, with arrivals in Bangkok set to swell an additional 68% during the same period. Doha, the capital of Qatar, is set to explode with 104% increase in traffic over the next six years.

The data also predicts that both Bangkok and Phuket will rebound big time in 2020, Phuket in particular with a growth of around 20% for the next year, accord to the data from TravelSupermarket.com.

By 2025 the data predicts that Bangkok will be the world’s #1 tourist destination, a position it’s held before in recent years. The Thai capital will be followed by Singapore, Dubai, Phuket and Kuala Lumpur, making South East Asia the world’s emerging tourism hotspot.

Some of the world’s favourites – New York, Paris, London – will continue to grow their tourist numbers but not at the rate of most Asian destinations.

You can read the full list HERE.

The world's fastest growing tourist destinations | News by The Thaiger

Stats compiled by travelsupermarket.com

The world's fastest growing tourist destinations | News by The Thaiger

Stats compiled by travelsupermarket.com

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