US, Australia, ease travel advisories

PHUKET: Two Western governments that persisted in describing Phuket as being severely damaged by the tsunami finally amended their advisories yesterday to paint more accurate pictures of the situation

The US State Department amended the travel advisory on its website to read: “A series of tsunami waves caused by a severe earthquake struck southwestern coastal areas of Thailand on December 26, causing great loss of life and destruction to buildings and infrastructure in the popular resort areas of Phuket, Phi Phi Island, Krabi, and Phang Nga.

“Facilities on Phi Phi Island and in most of Khao Lak were largely destroyed, making travel to those areas extremely inadvisable. Services in most other affected areas, however, including hotels and telephone services, are generally operating again, and many parts of Phuket and Krabi suffered only minimal damage.”

The Australian government, although it has amended its warning, is still cautious. Its updated advisory reads: “Many areas of the west coast of Thailand were hit by a large tsunami on 26 December 2004 resulting in widespread flooding and damage.

“Due to the widespread damage and risk of disease, Australians should not travel to the Khao Lak and Takua Pa areas of Phang Nga province and Phi Phi Island.

“In addition to health concerns, infrastructure, tourist and public services are severely disrupted, particularly in the Patong and Kamala Beach areas of Phuket Island. Australians travelling to those areas should check that their accommodation has not been affected.”

Although there have been no reports of outbreaks of disease, even from the worst-affected areas, the Australian advisory cautions: “The Department of Health and Ageing is advising against travel to tsunami affected areas of Thailand due to the risk of serious communicable diseases.

“The Chief Medical Officer advises there is a real risk of disease caused by disruption to water services, normal sewage and from over crowding. Diseases of concern include waterborne and diarrhoeal diseases along with diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, such as malaria and dengue.”

See here for the US advisory and here for the Australian one.

Phuket News

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