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Phuket airport being prepared for the Pemex 2009 emergency exercise

Phuket Crash Landings: Disasters Require Answers

Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Phuketwan News Analysis: Photo Album Above

THE SECOND anniversary of the crash of One-Two-Go holiday flight CG269 today marks a suitable time to reflect on some of the outcomes of life and death moments on Phuket.

How long should we remember the island's disasters? Is two years enough, as in the case of a plane crash that claimed 90 lives?

Is five years sufficient, as with a tsunami that killed 5400?

What about a live-aboard dive boat mishap, like the one in which seven people drowned earlier this year, when a brand new vessel simply blew over?

How long should we as a community recollect each of those distressing memories?

The answer is: as long as it takes to be reasonably sure that the lessons from each tragedy have been absorbed so that the disasters are unlikely to be repeated.

Defining the timing with more precision on Phuket is difficult. There are quite a few individual perspectives.

Those who have lost a loved one in a disaster will always remember. Consolation is slow. For some, it may never come.

Others keep their distance from the pain and suffering and are anxious for life (and especially business) to return quickly. They will always be keen to forget fast.

Some, including this reporter, are unable to distance themselves from any disaster . . . until an unequivocal response is delivered.

Has the lesson been learned? Is the tragedy destined to be repeated?

It's the same question we ask ourselves every day, from childhood on, in different ways: Is it safe?

Whether or not one agrees with the crash anniversary eve timing, yesterday's Pemex 2009 practice for an aircraft disaster at Phuket airport demonstrated a degree of preparedness that was admirable to see.

Practices are essential. Eternal vigilance is vital, but hard to maintain.

What would be more reassuring, though, is to know in precise detail what caused the crash, especially after two years, and what has been done since to make sure it does not happen again.

While summaries of the triggers for the CG269 disaster have been released, we have never been told with total frankness and with accuracy what went wrong, and why.

Questions are rightly asked about a second tsunami. If it comes at 3am, with everyone asleep and the sirens wind-blown out to sea, who will wake us all up?

Many unanswered issues also still surround the dive boat disaster. Why did a new vessel capsize in a Phuket squall, a regulation storm similar to the one that downed CG269?

Why did the rescue of the boat's survivors take so long? What has been done to make sure it cannot happen again?

The answers are still out there, somewhere.

Because Phuket is such a wonderful place, I will continue to to fly, I will go snorkelling (and perhaps learn to dive), and I will even, with good fortune, continue to sleep soundly.

But it would be even more of a pleasure to enjoy Phuket knowing that we have been provided, after each sad disaster, with all the answers.

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Comments

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As long as authorities in Thailand are incapable to properly investigate and response to accidents and fatalities, we must not forget. Remember the crash of flight TG261 on Dec 12, 1998 at Surat Thani. No lesson was learnt and lead to another crash of CG269 under similar circumstances. No answers to the dive-boat mishap, no answers to the 2 ladies who died in adjacent rooms on Phi Phi

Posted by Werner on September 16, 2009 11:55

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The simple answear is in the west a disaster in the magnitude of an airliner where people have lost there lives a memorial plaque is placed at the scene as a lasting memory. However in thailand anything that reminds you a disaster took place is removed as this could damage the reputation hence the state of the memorial to the tsunami in phuket and the wreckage of the 1-2-go plane still at the airport but under wraps at the top of the runway near the beach. Thoughts for the survivors and famiies of those lost: Zero.

Posted by billy dale on September 16, 2009 14:51

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All these accidents are down to Karma and have nothing to do with human error. Therefore, public inquiries are pointless and harmful.
Error and blame are not for public consumption, here in Thailand.

Posted by Sir Burr on September 16, 2009 17:49


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