ALERT CENTRE: Tsunami hotline planned

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Instant link to Pacific centre; warning towers also planned

Thailand will establish a hotline and a special fax line link with the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre to enhance the Kingdom’s tsunami warning system, which is currently under development, vice minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Smith Dharmasaroj said yesterday.

The new system would also be linked with warning towers to be built on beaches prone to tsunami hits, he said.

Smith, the former director-general of the Meteorological Department, was assigned to establish the country’s first tsunami warning system following the disaster on December 26.

He yesterday received Charles McCreery, director of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre, at Government House.

After the visit, Smith told reporters that McCreery had pledged full support for Thailand in providing warnings.

He said the Thai warning centre would be linked to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre by a phone line and a fax line, which will be used exclusively for warnings. Smith added that the two lines would be installed at the Meteorological Department’s head office in about two weeks.

“The hotline and fax line will enhance the efficiency of our warning system,” Smith said.

He said the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre would also provide scholarships for Thai personnel to study about earthquakes and tsunamis in Hawaii, and that it would also send its experts to train meteorological officials.

Smith said a new and comprehensive disaster warning centre would be set up in March at the National Warning Coordination Centre.

He said the new warning centre would channel warnings through all kinds of media, including radio and TV stations and warning towers.

Warnings would also be broadcast through the short messaging system of mobile-phone operators, he said.

Smith said he would also seek a budget from the government to build warning towers on western coasts. The towers would be about 20 to 30 metres tall and would be equipped with sirens and loudspeakers.

Construction could begin in six months if approved by the government.

As to why the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre failed to provide Thailand with a warning on December 26, Smith quoted McCreery as saying that the centre did not have the necessary instruments – such as tide gauges installed in the Indian Ocean to measure sea levels there – so it had been unable to anticipate the tsunami.

Published on January 25, 2005

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