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Tsunami Sends Message to Phuket: Always Know Who Will Wake You

Tsunami Sends Message to Phuket: Always Know Who Will Wake You

Friday, March 11, 2011
Tsunami Photo Album Above

AUTHORITIES in Bangkok and on Phuket will be watching the shocking tsunami quake aftermath unfold in Japan today.

The message that the shockwave sends to every country in the quake zones of the Pacific and Indian Oceans is: be prepared.

Eternal vigilance is the only way of coping with the prospect of the devastation that a large tsunami can wreak.

On December 26, 2004, the Indian Ocean tsunami devastated the Andaman coast. Phuket became forever connected with the tsunami, even though other parts of the region were hit much harder by it.

Now it's Japan's turn, and with other nations also possibly going to be struck as the waves spread. Like the Indian Ocean tsunami, today's quake came in daylight.

The concern that needs to be borne in mind by tsunami-watch officials in Phuket and Bangkok is that a tsunami could just as easily strike at night, when everyone is asleep.

While the warning system has improved over the years, there is still a disconnect between the authorities and the resorts and other places where tourists stay.

If you are in a resort within the Andaman coastal zone, ask the management: ''Who will wake me if a tsunami strikes between 1am and 6am?''

A second tsunami in the region is considered unlikely, but today's Japan tsunami indicates that everybody has to be fully prepared, just in case.

About 340 people died on Phuket in 2004. Further north in Khao Lak, although the population then was one tenth the size of Phuket, 10 times that number of victims were killed.

About 5400 people died in Thailand from the 2004 tsunami, half Thais and half expats. Around the region, about 220,000 people were killed, with 160,000 in the Indonesian province of Aceh alone.

Thailand was exceptional because international teams of forensic experts gathered on Phuket and managed to identify all except 380 victims out of the 5400 over the next two years.

This message was posted as a comment overnight by a reader who runs a resort:

Whilst this tragedy unfolds in Japan and (potentially) in the Pacific Islands, now is a good time to ask exactly what the step-by-step process for identifying a possible tsunami in the Andaman Sea, and the procedure for notifying the many resorts and local populations along the Andaman Coast.

I assume that an undersea earthquake would be initially registered by both the US (and other nations) earthquake monitoring sensors, as well as thailand's warning buoys.

What then? That data is presumably relayed to relevant government authorities, and a decision made whether or not to alert the local population.

How is that tsunami alert made? I assume that tsumani warning towers in the area of danger would be activated, (unless the copper power cabling has been stolen).

Does the government have a process to issue alerts via local TV and radio?

How about alerts issued via the various cable TV tourist channels?

What about SMS alerts? Is there a service that we can subscribe to?

Is an automated telephone call made to resorts and hotels in the area?

You can gather than I'm totally in the dark about what procedures should be followed, and what warning alerts would be provided.

The worst part of all this 'confusion' is that I own a hotel which lies only a few hundred meters from the Andaman Sea. In the 6+ years since the 2004 tsunami, I have never received any printed or verbal advice from any government authority, nor been invited to attend any meeting where hotels like mine are instructed about what to do in the event of a tsunami warning.

Guess we just have to use our own common sense then...

Simon Lutrell
After the Big Wave: What Happened in Phuket

The Tsunami: Week One Recalled
What was it like in that first week after the tsunami? Here one Phuket resident relates the story as it was reported in other places. This article has never appeared in print on Phuket.
The Tsunami: Week One Recalled

Bodywork: How Tsunami Victims Reclaimed Names
The work by international police created the greatest forensic detective saga in history. Here is a report from the first 100 days.
Bodywork: How Tsunami Victims Reclaimed Names

Water and Fire: A Tsunami Reunion
The poorest unidentified victims of the tsunami in Thailand are the ones who still have yet to be reunited with relatives. Here from 2007 is a report of one such reunion.
Water and Fire: A Tsunami Reunion

The Man Who Waits in the Cool Container
Lost and found. Those three words tell a tsunami story that applied to thousands of victims. But for one of the lost and found, there has been no reunion with loved ones. And there may never be.
The Man Who Waits in the Cool Container

Thai Official Accused of Tsunami Corruption
Accusations of corruption by a Thai official take the edge off a generous international tsunami project that involved about 40 countries and gave names back to thousands of unidentified victims.
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Tsunami Warning Test: How Safe Are We?
Warning drills for a tsunami are easy in sunshine. But the unpredictable arrival of a big wave in the middle of the night, when telephones and television are switched off, leaves us asking: How safe are we?
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Tsunami ID Cremation Mix-ups Trouble Families
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Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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(moderated)

Posted by Zig on March 11, 2011 18:07

Editor Comment:

No interest in fortune tellers and predictions of tsunamis, zig. Don't waste your time and mine.

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Ed...why don't you look at the science behind what was reported and allow us readers to share information with each other regardless of what your personal beliefs are....or is this publication filled with articles of which only YOU want us to read?

Posted by zig on March 11, 2011 18:39

Editor Comment:

There is no science behind specific day predictions of tsunamis. It's ALL nonsense.

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Did you bother reading the article...It actually is very informative...Todays event...coincidence???...or a result of what is actually occuring?..It's anyones guess....But it is happening...So why do you excercise your "great power" as editor of this publication as that of a Fascist dictator...What happen to freedom of the press?...

Posted by zig on March 11, 2011 19:02

Editor Comment:

My bulldust antennae have been finely honed over the years, Zig. I could have told you that Hitler and Mussolini were all bulldust, too. People are not free to spout misinformation here. For that, you need a chat site.

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Whilst this tragedy unfolds in Japan and (potentially) in the Pacific Islands, now is a good time to ask exactly what the step-by-step process for identifying a possible tsunami in the Andaman Sea, and the procedure for notifying the many resorts and local populations along the Andaman Coast.

I assume that an undersea earthquake would be initially registered by both the US (and other nations) earthquake monitoring sensors, as well as thailand's warning buoys.

What then? That data is presumably relayed to relevant government authorities, and a decision made whether or not to alert the local population.

How is that tsunami alert made? I assume that tsumani warning towers in the area of danger would be activated, (unless the copper power cabling has been stolen).

Does the government have a process to issue alerts via local TV and radio?

How about alerts issued via the various cable TV tourist channels?

What about SMS alerts? Is there a service that we can subscribe to?

Is an automated telephone call made to resorts and hotels in the area?

You can gather than I'm totally in the dark about what procedures should be followed, and what warning alerts would be provided.

The worst part of all this 'confusion' is that I own a hotel which lies only a few hundred meters from the Andaman Sea. In the 6+ years since the 2004 tsunami, I have never received any printed or verbal advice from any government authority, nor been invited to attend any meeting where hotels like mine are instructed about what to do in the event of a tsunami warning.

Guess we just have to use our own common sense then...

Posted by Simon Luttrell on March 11, 2011 19:09

Editor Comment:

Simon, The question for you and other resort proprietors is: if a big wave comes at 3am, how will your resort staff know? Who will tell your guests?

The authorities know about warning buoys and tsunami towers along the beaches and radio and tv . . . great in daytime but all pointless unless there is a plan to alert resorts between the difficult hours of 1am and 6am, when tv and radio are not switched on and when what resort staff there are on duty are usually asleep behind the reception counter.

I am sure you are not the only resort owner who cannot answer the vital questions, Simon. Thanks for your honesty. We've been trying to make this point for six years.

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Ed, a viable solution would be for all resort owners/managers to subscribe to an SMS text message, tsunami alert system.

To ensure that the mobile networks which deliver these alerts are not 'overloaded' in a situation like this, the alert system should be restricted to one or two senior staff at each resort, who would then be able to alert all guests at that resort.

I'm not making this suggestion as a naive 'non-techie'. Prior to owning my hotels, I was a designer of SMS systems and services for more than 12 years, operating in many different countries throughout Asia, Europe and the US.

Perhaps I need to develop an SMS alert system for Greater Phuket? (Hang on - what about the work permit??)

Posted by Simon Luttrell on March 11, 2011 20:14

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This is who wakes me: http://tsunami-alarm.com

Posted by kel on March 12, 2011 09:02

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Dear Simon,

There is already an extremely efficient SMS-based tsunami warning system in existence. Yesterday, I received 3 SMS alerts from the system within 15 minutes of the Japan quake. There are normally 3 or 4 such alerts per year. They specify the exact location and time of the quake, allowing the subscriber to determine the best course of action for them.
I was very lucky to survive the 2004 tsunami when it ripped through my home in Kamala. I still live in the same house, but now can sleep at night knowing I have a reliable warning system.

I hope this helps you and other readers who would like to know the facts as soon as possible in the event of a tsunami alert.

Best regards,
Kel

Posted by kel on March 12, 2011 09:26

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Simon, great idea,never mind the Work permit, let's hope someone in power reads this and uses this simple warning system... can even be connected to set off alarm warning systems

Posted by johndev on March 12, 2011 09:55

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Oh you folks are so worried about a bit of water from the sea coming to Phuket? Check out the new threat of a five nuclear reactor meltdown at http://www.foxnews.com/world/2011/03/11/japan-issues-emergency-nuke-plant-leak/

We will be glowing in the dark.

Posted by Robin on March 12, 2011 10:48

Editor Comment:

Which way is the wind blowing?

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Kel - thanks for that excellent information about the tsumani SMS alert service.

I have already signed up for this service - it will go some way to provide prompt notification of a possible and impending tsunami.

Perhaps Phuketwan could publicise the existence of this alert service to other hotel owners.

Simon

Posted by Simon Luttrell on March 12, 2011 17:40

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Hi ED. An update. A secondary containment cell in one reactor has just exploded, spewing forth radio active material.
Guess what? The winds are blowing from Japan, NE directly this way, NW.

Get ready to glow.

Posted by Robin on March 12, 2011 18:05

Editor Comment:

Didn't you already glow, Robin?


Monday July 13, 2020
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa

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