Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

HOME // Phuket News // Nineteen years on, concerns remain over “neglected” tsunami warning system

Nineteen years on, concerns remain over “neglected” tsunami warning system

PHOTO: Reuters

Yesterday was the nineteenth anniversary of the December 2004 tsunami that devastated the south-west coast of Thailand and numerous other countries around the Indian Ocean.

Triggered by a 9.2-magnitude Boxing Day earthquake off the northern tip of Sumatra, in Indonesia, the tsunami claimed around a quarter of a million lives, with thousands still missing.

On the Thai islands and places like Khao Lak, in Phang Nga, many of those missing, presumed dead, were undocumented migrant workers. In Phuket, Phang Nga, Ranong, Krabi, Trang and Satun, around 5,400 people died and over 8,000 were injured.

Countless hotels, resorts, bungalows, shops, and restaurants, as well as private homes, were totally destroyed. According to a Nation Thailand report, damages were estimated at over 1 billion baht.

In the aftermath, Thailand installed early warning systems, including two detection buoys off the coast of Phuket and more than 100 watch towers in six provinces.

When an earthquake with a magnitude of over 7.8 is recorded, officials are required to trigger an alarm, giving people an hour and a half to get to higher ground and “safe zones”. The warning towers are set to broadcast alerts in Thai, English, German, Chinese and Japanese.

However, there are concerns in some quarters that maintenance of these early warning systems was neglected during the Covid-19 pandemic, when international tourism in Thailand totally shut down and the financial impact in the affected areas was devastating.

This has raised questions as to the efficacy of the systems and even if they are still in working order.

In July last year, when an earthquake struck the Nicobar Islands, around 570 kilometres off the coast of Phuket, both tsunami buoys failed to function.

In April of this year, up to 25 tsunami warning towers suddenly began sounding an alarm, causing residents and tourists to panic. To this date, officials have been unable to explain what triggered the alarms, saying there were no faults found at any of the towers.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

Advertisement Phuket Go Advertisement sidebar_1


5 Star Marine Phuket

You May Also Like

Phuket News

Thursday, July 18, 2024 – Phuket weather, sunset times, air quality and tides (7am) Much improved weather outlook but still some rain forecast today in...

Phuket News

Tuesday, February 27, 2024 – Phuket weather forecast Increasing cloud today with a corresponding increase in winds from east. The slightly overcast conditions should...

National News

UPDATE: There has been another NOTAM (Notice to Air Missions) issued in the past 24 hours which changes Item 5, which MAY provide an...

Phuket Life

No. The December 26, 2004, event, known as the Asian Tsunami, Indian Ocean Tsunami or the Boxing Day Tsunami, was an extremely rare event...