Phuket Prepares Drills After Tsunami Fears

In Phuket, a tsunami evacuation drill will be held on July 30, after a series of underwater earthquakes off the Nicobar Islands raised residents’ fears of an impending tsunami, governor Narong Woonciew said yesterday.

The governor said he had instructed deputy governor Anuparp Rodkwan Yodrabam, the provincial disaster prevention and mitigation office and other agencies to keep a close watch on the situation.

They had been told to ensure staff, work crews and equipment were ready to respond should there be a tsunami, Mr Narong said.


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“We have been prepared for it since Phuket experienced a tsunami in 2004. We can’t be complacent. What is of high importance is the safety of the people,” he said.

Udomporn Kan, chief of the Phuket disaster prevention and mitigation office, said the strong southwest monsoon, high rainfall and a high tide on Sunday had sent waves surging ashore. Several beachside roads, including Hat Sai Kaew, were flooded, and this caused panic.

“I can assure you that the high tide had nothing to do with a tsunami. For a tsunami to form there must be an earthquake with a magnitude of seven or more on the Richter scale along the Nicobar fault line.

“The National Disaster Warning Centre closely monitors all factors which may lead to earthquakes and a tsunami,” he said.

From Monday to Tuesday, the National Disaster Warning Centre detected 23 earthquakes of about 4.7 magnitude off the Nicobar Islands, about 540 kilometres northwest of Phuket, but they had no impact on Thailand, Mr Udomporn said.

These quakes were also reported by the navy’s wave-monitoring station on Koh Miang, off Phangnga province.

He said his office is ready to handle a tsunami. There are 19 warning towers around Phuket and they are tested regularly, by playing the national anthem at 8am every Wednesday.

If a tsunami was coming, warnings would be issued for people living in coastal areas. There would also be announcements in five languages — English, Thai, Japanese, Chinese and Russian.

In the first warning, the magnitude of the earthquake would be reported. In the second, people would be told to get ready for evacuation.

Mr Udomporn said there would be a tsunami evacuation drill on July 20 in Phuket’s Thalang district, starting at 10am.

District officials will meet state agencies ahead of the drill, so they can prepare and be ready to respond in case of an emergency, he said.


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