Phuket Gazette

PHUKET CITY: With the fifth anniversary of the tsunami approaching, now is a good time to reflect on how well prepared Phuket might be should a similar disaster befall us in the future.

The sad truth is that we are still a long way from where we should be, even though public awareness of the threat of tsunamis is understandably much higher than it was before.

Apart from the change from wood to plastic loungers in some locations, most Phuket beaches appear to have changed little in terms of limiting possible damage and loss of life.

Some of the most devastated areas, most notably Patong, are more dangerously overdeveloped than ever – chock full of obstacles that would prevent a rapid evacuation, should one be necessary.

In many cases, especially along the beach road north of Soi Bangla, there are even fewer possible escape routes due to all the commercial development.

Even worse is the fact that for months Thailand has lacked an operating tsunami direct detection unit, the vital first link in conducting a successful evacuation.

The first buoy, donated by the US and deployed northwest of Phuket in 2006, ceased transmitting a few months ago. The reason? Some say that red tape and bureaucratic reshuffling by the National Disaster Warning Center (NDWC) rendered the agency incapable of changing the buoy’s battery, a responsibility that had long ago been agreed with the US.

The NDWC is now in a race against time to rectify the situation in a one-week mission that begins December 14. If successful, this could spare Thailand the embarrassment of having an unforgivable failure come under international scrutiny on the tsunami anniversary.

On a more positive note, the British Government recently put in place a new Internet-based tracking system called ‘LOCATE’ that is intended to provide real-time data about UK nationals in Thailand.

There are as many as 80,000 British subjects in Thailand at any given time in the high season, with some 5,000 residing in Phuket full time, according to some estimates.

Inevitably, some get into trouble. Imagine how much easier the work of the British Embassy would have been after the 2004 tsunami if all UK nationals had been registered in such a database.

It doesn’t take a tsunami to justify implementing such a system, however. LOCATE should be a tremendous aid to consular officials, expat residents and their families back home in times of crisis.

We encourage all UK nationals to register with the site and hope other countries, especially Thailand, learn to make better use of the amazing technologies now available for use in disaster prevention and mitigation strategies.
– Stephen Michael Fein

1

How many Tsunami's have you had over there? I've only heard of one! What measures against a Tsunami are they taking at Surfers Paradise? (Queensland, Australia.) It's a once in a 100 years phenomenon. I bet when/IF it happens again, nobody remembers the last one!

Posted by david white December 7, 2009 05:49:06PM

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2

With the computer system in place at the airport and Immigration, I would have thought that the LOCATE system was superfluous. Given that the UK has more CCTVs than any other country I can't help but wonder if the UK government has other reasons for wanting to know where everyone is. Your excellent cartoon says it all.

Posted by Randolf Pertwee December 7, 2009 05:58:41PM

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3

Good article, especially, "Some of the most devastated areas, most notably Patong, are more dangerously overdeveloped than ever...." There should be a clear area between the beach chairs and the waterfront. Patong beach is probably the only stramd in the world where the vendors are allowed to block the beach totally with chairs, umbrellas, etc. When are the Gazette going to write something about this problem?

Posted by The beach user December 7, 2009 06:29:45PM

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4

All talk and no action: that is Thailand. Too lazy or out drinking; thats probably why they can't even get a battery into the buoy. How many police are there around the world that can go drinking in uniform and visit the karaoke also?

Posted by liz black December 7, 2009 07:12:13PM

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6

Great...I come to Thailand to get away from my proding government spying on my private life and now they want to track my every move outside of the country. And they say this all in the best interest of their citizens? Just another ploy to have access to their citizens' private lives, all in the name of safety and security? Keep your nose out of my business, Big Brother!

Posted by bob December 7, 2009 09:43:16PM

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7

Methinks I smell double taxation....?

Posted by renegade December 7, 2009 10:38:15PM

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9

Not a single lesson was learned from the last tsunami. Lookout towers that were erected are now unused, unmaintained, and dangerous. The one at Layan beach is a good example of that; it's only a matter of time before it falls down and kills someone! Beach front development has exploded and wooden beach loungers, which killed many, are everywhere.

Posted by geoffphuket December 10, 2009 01:43:20PM

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9

Not a single lesson was learned from the last tsunami. Lookout towers that were erected are now unused, unmaintained, and dangerous. The one at Layan beach is a good example of that; it's only a matter of time before it falls down and kills someone! Beach front development has exploded and wooden beach loungers, which killed many, are everywhere.

Posted by geoffphuket December 10, 2009 01:43:20PM

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7

Methinks I smell double taxation....?

Posted by renegade December 7, 2009 10:38:15PM

Reply

0    0

6

Great...I come to Thailand to get away from my proding government spying on my private life and now they want to track my every move outside of the country. And they say this all in the best interest of their citizens? Just another ploy to have access to their citizens' private lives, all in the name of safety and security? Keep your nose out of my business, Big Brother!

Posted by bob December 7, 2009 09:43:16PM

Reply

0    0

4

All talk and no action: that is Thailand. Too lazy or out drinking; thats probably why they can't even get a battery into the buoy. How many police are there around the world that can go drinking in uniform and visit the karaoke also?

Posted by liz black December 7, 2009 07:12:13PM

Reply

0    0

3

Good article, especially, "Some of the most devastated areas, most notably Patong, are more dangerously overdeveloped than ever...." There should be a clear area between the beach chairs and the waterfront. Patong beach is probably the only stramd in the world where the vendors are allowed to block the beach totally with chairs, umbrellas, etc. When are the Gazette going to write something about this problem?

Posted by The beach user December 7, 2009 06:29:45PM

Reply

0    0

2

With the computer system in place at the airport and Immigration, I would have thought that the LOCATE system was superfluous. Given that the UK has more CCTVs than any other country I can't help but wonder if the UK government has other reasons for wanting to know where everyone is. Your excellent cartoon says it all.

Posted by Randolf Pertwee December 7, 2009 05:58:41PM

Reply

0    0

1

How many Tsunami's have you had over there? I've only heard of one! What measures against a Tsunami are they taking at Surfers Paradise? (Queensland, Australia.) It's a once in a 100 years phenomenon. I bet when/IF it happens again, nobody remembers the last one!

Posted by david white December 7, 2009 05:49:06PM

Reply

0    0

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