Present at the high-powered event at Cape Panwa, on Phuket’s east coast, to mark the departure of the team on board the boat MV SEAFDEC, which belongs to the Samut Prakan-based Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Centre, were Phuket Vice Governor Snith Sriwihok, National Disaster Warning Centre (NDWC) Director Chatchawan Benjasiriwong and representatives from the Royal Thai Navy Third Area Command.
Also present were executive officials from the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) and DDPM officials from the Andaman coast provinces, including Phuket.
The nine-day mission is scheduled to be carried out from Oct 9-18, said Mr Chatchawan.
MV SEAFDEC departed at 3:30pm.
The mission was being carried out “in order to make sure that the system is ready to transfer data to warn people of tsunamis,” Mr Chatchawan sagely noted.
However, no other details were provided, including where the buoy is to be deployed, the budget used to fund the mission or any other explanation of the current operational status of the “tsunami-warning system” that aims to provide residents and tourists along the Andaman coast of an impending tsunami.
In July last year, Phuket officials played down concerns in response to repeated requests for updates on what was being done to repair a tsunami-warning buoy that stopped transmitting data in March. (See story here.)
In August this year, DDPM-Phuket officials announced that it aimed to have all 19 tsunami-warning towers in Phuket operational by the end of that month. (See story here.)
In addressing those concerns, Mr Chatchawan, who at the time was DDPM Region 18 Chief, also confirmed that one of the two tsunami-warning buoys anchored up to 1,000 kilometres off Phuket’s west coast, and which serve as critical components in Thailand’s tsunami-warning system, was operational.
“We have just completed an annual check on one buoy, which is still working,’ he said.
“We are in the middle of conducting a check on the other buoy now, which has ceased functioning. We expect it to be fully operational again by October,” Mr Chatchawan said at the time.
“Do not worry about the buoy that is not working now because it is part of a much larger system of other warning buoys that work together to detect tsunamis, so one buoy not working has very little effect on the whole tsunami-detection system,” he explained.