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Disaster experts stomp on Phuket tsunami prediction

Disaster experts stomp on Phuket tsunami prediction

PHUKET: The National Disaster Warning Centre (NDWC) has moved to quash a rumour, spreading rapidly through social media, that Phuket and other parts of the south will be hit by a tsunami “in two or three days”.

By Tanyaluk Sakoot

Tuesday 17 June 2014, 07:07PM

Chat show host Vuthithorn 'Woody' Milintachinda (left) with fortune teller  Pai Nawaracha Phinitpokakon, from her Facebook page.

Chat show host Vuthithorn 'Woody' Milintachinda (left) with fortune teller Pai Nawaracha Phinitpokakon, from her Facebook page.

The rumour appears to have been sparked by the earthquake in Chiang Rai on May 14 and then news of a 6.3 Richter quake off Indonesia last Friday (June 13).

It gained real momentum, however, after an interview on the TV talk show Woody Woke Up To Talk on Sunday (June 15), in which the host interviewed a fortune teller, Nawaracha 'Pia' Phinitpokakon.

Miss Pai gained some fame by supposedly predicting the sinking of the South Korean ferry Sewol in May with the loss of some 300 lives.

Sounding initially rather like a weather announcer, she warned that people should not go near the shore or beaches between June 15-17 and June or July 20-25, when there would be heavy weather.

But then she added that “water disasters” would happen twice, once near Indonesia, “where there is a volcano”, and the second time along the Andaman coast of Thailand, with Phuket, Phang Nga and Krabi being inundated.

Finally she mentioned the T word: “The main reason will be a new fault in the Gulf of Thailand. This will cause a bigger tsunami [than in 2004].” Peninsular Thailand will actually disappear, she said, though without saying whether this would be next week or 2,000 years from now.

The NDWC announced, “It appears that the rumours have been driven by the recent bad weather that has brought waves that have damaged people’s homes in many provinces in the south of Thailand, the worst damage being in Takuapa district in Phang Nga province.

The NDWC wants to stress that this has nothing to do with tsunamis. It is the result of the annual Southwest Monsoon, which affects the six province on west coast [Phuket, Phang Nga, Krabi, Trang, Satun and Ranong].”

Acting Sub Lt Trakun Tortham, Director of the Department of Disaster Preservation and Mitigation in Phuket, told The Phuket News, “Don’t believe everything you hear. I know that the recent earthquake in Chiang Rai caused some people to worry about a repetition of the Asian Tsunami of 2004.

QSI International School Phuket

We are ready to deal with [a tsunami] situation. My officers and I check more than 10 disaster warning towers every month, and we know which towers have low batteries. We can check and change any of them any time.”

Although it is extremely unlikely that a tsunami will arrive on the predicted dates, ASL Trakun said that everyone should be aware of their local evacuation route.

The tsunami evacuation route signs are very important. Even though the signs were set up 10 years ago, they can still point people to the right way to escape.

But some of the signs are used for target practice, and many have simply disappeared. These are important signs, so if you notice that one near you has disappeared or been obliterated, contact us and my officers will fix it.

If an earthquake happens, just go to a higher area and stay until you get the all-clear. Do not drive up there because you risk being caught in a traffic jam.

The weak point of the system is if people rush to take action unthinkingly and do not listen to officials. I recommend that people get the right information first from the government, by radio or TV. Then they can decide logically what they should do.

Right now my main concern is not the possibility of a tsunami, but the danger of landslides, which people should be aware of until June 18.

The other thing is the high waves that make it unsafe to swim at some beaches.”

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