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Tsunami evacuation drill to be held

 A tsunami evacuation drill will be held in this southern island province on July 30, after a series of underwater earthquakes off the Nicobar Islands raised local residents’ fears of an impending tsunami, governor Narong Woonciew said on Wednesday.

The governor said he had instructed deputy governor Anuparp Rodkwan Yodrabam, the provincial disaster prevention and mitigation office and other agencies to keep a close watch on the situation.

They had been told to ensure staff, work crews and equipment were ready to respond should there be a tsunami, Mr Narong said.

“We have been prepared for it, since Phuket people experienced a tsunami in 2004. We can’t be  complacent. What is of high importance is the safety of the people,” he said.

Udomporn Kan, chief of the Phuket disaster prevention and mitigation office, said the strong southwest monsoon, high rainfall and high sea tide on July 3 had sent sea waves surging ashore. Several beachside roads, including Hat Sai Kaew, were flooded, and this caused panic.

“I can assure you that the high tide had nothing to do with a tsunami. For there be a tsumami there must be an earthquake with a magnitude of seven or more on the Richter scale along the Nicobar fault line.

“The National Disaster Warning Centre closely monitors all factors which may lead to earthquakes and a tsunami,” he said.

On July 4-5, the National Disaster Warning Centre detected 23 earthquakes of about 4.7 magnitude off the Nicobar Islands, about 540 kilometres northwest of Phuket, but they had no impact on Thailand, Mr Udomporn said.

These quakes were also reported by the navy’s wave monitoring station on Koh Miang, off Phangnga province.

He said his office is ready to handle a tsunami.

There were 19 warning towers around Phuket and they were tested regularly, by playing the national anthem at 8am every Wednesday.

If there were a tsunami, there would be warnings for people living in coastal areas. There would also be announcements in five languages – English, Thai, Japanese, Chinese and Russian.

In the first warning, the magnitude of the earthquake would be reported. In the second warning, people would be told to get ready for evacuation

Mr Udomporn said that in order to be fully prepared there would be a tsunami evacuation drill on July 20 in Phuket’s Thalang district, starting at 10am.

District officials would be having meetings with all relevant agencies ahead of the drill, so they could prepare and be ready to respond in the case of an emergency, he said.

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