TSUNAMI evacuation drills were held in two Phuket districts today (July 20) to prepare both main and supporting agencies for disaster management and the people on what to do in case of this eventuality, Matichon newspaper said.
As many as 40 earthquakes of 4.0 – 4.9 magnitude occurred in the Andaman Sea off Andaman and Nicobar Islands during July 4-6 with this raising tsunami fears as the memory of the big one that occurred on Dec 26, 2004 after a 9.1-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Sumatra is still vivid. As many as 220,000 people were killed throughout the region including 4,812 in Thailand with 8,457 injured and 4,499 missing.
The island’s Deputy Governor Anupap Rodkwan Yodrabam said the drills were aimed at ensuring the safety of life and property as well as training residents and tourists alike on steps they should take so that they do not panic if the natural disaster strikes again and have confidence in the local authorities.
Mr. Udomporn Kan, head of the Phuket Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Agency, said this year’s tsunami evacuation drills focused on the management of evacuation command centres and shelters.
The drills in Thalang and the Mueang districts started this morning with a briefing on the procedure attended by key senior officials from various units including Deputy Governor Anupap, those from these two districts, the Navy, the National Security Council and Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation.
From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. practical evacuation to safe places and then shelters took place in the event of a tsunami hitting the island again.
However public warning sirens were not sounded in order to not panic tourists new to the island. Instead vehicles drove around issuing evacuation alerts in five languages – Thai, English, Japanese, Chinese and Russian.
These drills will be held again in Kathu district on August 16-17 with the results to be evaluated and recommendations from various parties considered.
People in Phuket’s Mueang and Thalang districts participating in today’s tsunami drills. Photos: Matichon