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Human Traffickers May Have Damaged Thailand's Tsunami Warning System

Human Traffickers May Have Damaged Thailand's Tsunami Warning System

Wednesday, January 22, 2014
PHUKET: A tsunami warning buoy has been pulled out of alignment by human traffickers or fishermen, the Director of the National Disaster Warning Center, Group Captain Somsak Khaosuwan, said today.

''I believe it could have been a Rohingya boat or a large fishing boat,'' Group Captain Somsak said today from Bangkok, where he is based.

''The positioning of the tsunami buoy is vital for tsunami warnings in the Indian Ocean region, especially Thailand and Indonesia.''

A vessel is to sail from Phuket's Cape Panwa on Monday with the aim of replacing the tsunami buoy with a new model. The buoy is positioned between Thailand and the Indian protectorate of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

''The buoy has to be precisely positioned so it can relate to a satellite to send data,'' Group Captain Somsak said. ''A large boat appears to have anchored on the buoy and dragged it out of position.

''Such movement would not occur naturally. It must have been a Rohingya vessel or a large fishing boat.''

The group captain said the information for the last tsunami warning on Phuket in April 2013 came from the buoy. But it had been moved out of position in August.

Rohingya, fleeing ethnic cleansing in Burma in larger numbers, are now being transported south on larger vessels capable of holding 500 to 700 people.

The big boats have never been reported to have been apprehended by officials off Thailand.

Human trafficking along Thailand's coast has become a popular industry because locals considered it more lucrative and less dangerous than dealing in drugs.

However, the larger boats now carry more Rohingya further out to sea. Instead of being dependent on the safe ''sailing season'' between monsoons, Rohingya are now being traded south from Burma to Malaysia all year round.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


How I wish I was a reporter, so many questions could have been asked to Group Captain Somsak Khaosuwan. 1) Waht proof of a "large" vessel? 2)Why even metion the Rohingya, when he has no proof. 3) How did he know it was "moved" in August and why has it taken 5 months (lucky there wasn't any tsunamis) to do something about it, if it had been "moved" why wasn't it "moved" back. 4) How far out of position can it be to be unusable? 5) As for it not being able to be moved "naturally" has he even considered that it may not have been anchored securely in the first place ( I hope they didn't use Marine Office

Posted by Laurie howells on January 22, 2014 11:25

Editor Comment:

As the group captain kindly interrupted a meeting and only had four minutes to spare, your questions would have gone unanswered. You don't have the open mind required to be a reporter, Laurie.


Finger-pointing solves very little. The disturbing thing is that it's been 'inactive' since August. It's fortunate nothing happened in the meantime. A positive is at least they are replacing it as it is not a matter of 'if' but 'when' the next big wave comes.

Posted by Jon on January 22, 2014 12:24


@Jon: "When the next big wave arrives" we'll all be dead and buried - or cremated - a long, long time.

Posted by Buster on January 22, 2014 12:54



You have no way of knowing and predicting earth crust movements next Tsunami could be in ten minutes or ten thousand years

Posted by Michael on January 22, 2014 15:58


Ed, it will come as not surprise that I disagree with you. Simply because you and I do not always agree does not mean I have a "closed" mind, in fact I have an inquiring mind, something some others seem to lack. Are my questions not relavent? I would have thought they are, in fact very relavent and should be answered. We see too many officials making unsubstantiated comments, possibly because they know no-one will question them, this is not good for Thailand. I would like to see what your readers have to say.

Posted by Laurie Howells on January 22, 2014 17:01

Editor Comment:

You criticism should surely be directed at outlets that fail to cover important topics, rather than those that do. You are now back where you were at the beginning, Laurie, failing to add value. Commenters here are expected to add information or relate their individual experiences. Telling us how to do our job is too easy. Everybody does it. As I told you way back when, I don't have time to waste explaining to you why we do what we do. You may read what we produce for free, and offer comments that add value, or move on. Please cease wasting my time.


Buster, you say.
"When the next big wave arrives" we'll all be dead and buried - or cremated - a long, long time. With your brain sickness, talk for your self.

Posted by Retired roadworker on January 22, 2014 18:32


FAO: Laurie Howells [respected by many readers]
I agree with the necessity for your not unreasonable requests for further information ... The response you received should have been anticipated
If it's any consolation "Telling us how to do our job is too easy. Everybody does it." ... Surely not "Everybody"!
With regard to "As the group captain kindly interrupted a meeting and only had four minutes to spare, your questions would have gone unanswered." ... I have a new range of crystal balls for sale if you interested!
In conclusion ... Please cease wasting your time!

Posted by Amazed in Thailand on January 22, 2014 19:08

Editor Comment:

Ah, Amazed in Thailand, I see you just don't get it. We are happy to report as much as our priorities and our resources allow us to, but we don't take orders from readers. You or Laurie are welcome to make an offer to buy Phuketwan, then you may legitimately ask your journalists to ask your questions. Until then, we will continue to ignore all requests. The simple issue in this case, though, was that there wasn't enough time to ask more.

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