The buoy was dispatched on board the boat MV SEAFDEC, which belongs to the Samut Prakan-based Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Centre. The boat was brought to Phuket for the mission to install the buoy some 290 kilometres offshore, where the previous DART II warning buoy was positioned.
The previous buoy ceased sending data two years ago.
“We will recover the old buoy and have it brought back to Bangkok,” Dr Prasong Thammapala, Scientist Senior Professional Level at the NDWC in Bangkok, explained to The Phuket News this morning (Jan 17).
“The buoy stopped sending data, so we sent a inspection team to see what was wrong. The team confirmed on Oct 25, 2017 that underwater parts of the buoy were damaged beyond repair,” he said.
“The new buoy will be activated to send a signal tomorrow morning. The buoy cost B25mn, which does not include the B12mn it will cost to dispatch the ship and have the buoy put in position,” he added.
The new buoy will replace the tsunami-warning buoy identified as “Station 23461”, which is the closest tsunami-warning buoy to the Thai Andaman coast. The buoy is located 290km offshore, Dr Prasong noted.
“The second buoy (Station 23401) is 960km away and is still working well,” he added.
“The new buoy being installed is an ETD (Easy to Deploy) model, just like the previous ones. It is just easy to install and saves time for the installation and technical process. So both buoys will work as the same,” Dr Prasong said.
“If a tsunami warning is issued from data sent by the first buoy, people will have 90 minutes to evacuate. If a tsunami warning is issued from data sent by the second buoy, people will have 45 minutes to evacuate.
“In addition, there is a Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System unit on Koh Miang (in the Similan Islands), which feeds information to the Royal Thai Navy,” he added.
Dr Prasong confirmed that all 19 tsunami-warning towers in Phuket are fully operational.
“There are a total of 129 warning towers throughout Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga, Ranong, Satun and Trang provinces,” Dr Prasong confirmed.
Asked why the new buoy was installed in November last year, as promised (see story here), Dr Prasong explained, “The plan changed due to three main issues: the weather, and the availability of the ship and the tsunami-warning buoy experts. All three of these issues needed to ready together.”
Dr Prasong explained the state of Thailand’s tsunami-warning preparedness at a conference held at the Novotel Phokeethra Hotel in Phuket Town, before the cast-off ceremony to dispatch the M/V SEAFDEC was held at Cape Panwa yesterday afternoon.
The conference was attended by Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) Director-General Chayapol Thitisak, who voiced his confidence in the tsunami-warning system
“With both buoys operational with the national tsunami-warning networks in the Indian and the Pacific oceans, we will get tsunami warnings in time,” Mr Chayapol said.
“It is a mechanism to prevent and reduce the impact of a tsunami by us being able to warn people early and accurately, causing people not to panic in response to rumours,” he said.
“This will help to build confidence in people and tourists in Andaman region,” Mr Chayapol added.
Dr Prasong concurred.
“There is no need for people to panic. Should an incident arise people are urged to follow news issued via the DDPM website or call the DDPM hotline 1784,” he said.