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Wednesday 13 July 2005

Thailand: Tsunami alarm system online in August

The island’s tsunami warning system will be linked in August via satellite to the Nonthaburi-based National Disaster Warning Center (NDWC). Patong, which has been chosen for the pilot project of the NDWC’s tsunami warning system for the entire Andaman coast, is home to three NDWC warning towers and there are plans to increase the number of towers to cover 24 locations around Phuket in the future.

The NDWC system will make Thailand the first of the countries hit by the December 26, 2004, tsunami to devise a national warning system. Boonchai Somjai, head of the Phuket Provincial Office of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation explained that the next four locations for siren tower construction will be in Kata, Karon, Kamala, and Sakoo. After that, towers will be built at Mai Khao, Ao Poh, Laem Tukkae, Saphan Hin, Ao Chalong, Rawai and Laem Promthep.

Apart from delivering warnings through the towers, the system will be capable of interrupting regular radio and TV programs to alert the public to the approach of a tsunami or any other disaster, and will also deliver warning SMS messages to mobile phones. A Cabinet meeting will be held next month to approve a budget for the construction of 62 alarm system towers in the six Andaman coast provinces and Bangkok.

Dr Smith Thammasaroj, who was appointed to establish the NDWC, said, “Installing the tsunami alarm system should help tourists gain confidence in the safety of the region.” The alarm system in Patong will be tested once the satellite link to Nonthaburi is complete. Chairat Sukbal, Deputy Mayor of Patong Municipality, told the Gazette, “We are in the midst of solving problems related to the satellite. However, we will inform the public at least one week in advance so they can get ready for the test.” (The NDWC Hotline is Tel:1860)


(Source: Phuket Gazette)

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