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Thailand’s tsunami-warning buoys both out of action

Thailand’s tsunami-warning buoys both out of action

PHUKET: The two tsunami-warning buoys deployed west of Phuket that Thailand is responsible for maintaining are both out of action, the National Disaster Warning Centre (NDWC) in Bangkok has confirmed.

By Tanyaluk Sakoot

Tuesday 15 September 2020, 04:42PM

One of the tsunami-warning buoys has been scavenged for its components, while the other is still relaying real-time data, has come loose from its sea-floor mooring and is drifting aimlessly some 200km west of Phuket, Dr Prasong Thammapala, Acting Director of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) Information Technology and Communication Center, told The Phuket News.

However, Dr Prasong urged people to not panic, as the “outer” warning buoy, located some 600 nautical miles west of Phuket, is just one of an array of tsunami-warning buoys that are still functioning.

The ‘Bay of Bengal array’ was created by an international project with different countries responsible for their own warning buoys, with all of them feeding real-time data to a tsunami-alert system monitored by the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), he said.

“The other warning buoys feed data into the same network. If an underwater earthquake strikes out there, we will be notified by the same system,” Dr Prasong explained.

“Please do not panic or be afraid that we will miss any signs of an earthquake,” he repeated.

The Indian Navy contacted the NDWC in January to inform them that the Thailand buoy in the Bay of Bengal array, designated ‘Station 23401’, had been damaged, Dr Prasong said.

“They took photos showing that the buoy had been broken into. The battery and the equipment were taken out,” he added.

Just making arrangements to repair the buoy has already proved a challenge, Dr Prasong said.

Many budgets have been stripped down to fund COVID-relief projects, and getting an expert to fly in from the US to make sure that the equipment re-installed into the buoy is properly calibrated to stream data into the NOAA-operated network is proving cumbersome.

“We can not fix this by ourselves. It involves sensitive information in order to connect to the satellite system. We need experts [involved with working with  NOAA] to do this part,” Dr Prasong said.

“I have  already contacted them in the US to send an expert to Thailand, but the COVID-19 restrictions are making this difficult,” he added.

Meanwhile, the second tsunami-warning buoy, ‘Station 23461’, is now missing from its usual location in the Andaman Sea, some 280km northwest of Phuket.

The good news is that the buoy is still transmitting real-data, including its GPS location, Dr Prasong explained.

“I think that a fishing boat has hit it again, breaking its mooring to the sea floor,” he said.

“But we are still receiving data from it, including its location, which makes it much easier to find and return it to its proper location.”

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Capricornball | 16 September 2020 - 18:25:14

Another embarrassment to Thailand. Khun Prasong says "Please do not panic or be afraid that we will miss any signs of an earthquake”.  The reason is that the other countries have continued to maintain their buoys (unlike Thailand) and we can rely on their efforts to be responsible to ensure a warning is ID'ed.  If Thailand gets nailed again, they will blame India for not warning us in t...

BigA | 16 September 2020 - 10:50:52

I tough they would be serviced every 4-6 month with a spare one exchanged the buoy out there and then service the other one and so on.Who is actually responsible for this ? Horst

Kurt | 16 September 2020 - 10:24:26

Seen this whole long time dysfunctional happening of tsunami buoys and reputation NDWC ( they knew it!), I not trust a single word that the buoy at 600 km distance is working properly. Phuket is not safe, no warning buoys, no sirenes working properly. . Well without warning buoys, no need to have sirenes, right? Poor west coast people of Thailand.

Kurt | 16 September 2020 - 10:13:38

In January (!!!) Indian Navy already informed  thai government that 1 buoy was without batteries, equipment. So, no data from this buoy through satellite. NDWC knew that. No thai navy that regular checks the buoys for 'national security'? Another buoy drifting. What a kindergarten is that NDWC.  Incompetence en lame excuse, hiding after Covid-19  make speechless.

Fascinated | 15 September 2020 - 18:51:01

What kind of a scumbag steals components from a system that could save hundreds of lives. On the othe hand- have they ever worked consistently? Right up there with the alarms in Kamala not working the other day.

Supaporn | 15 September 2020 - 17:06:17

wow, this is so bad. like when they wouldn‘t bring up money for new batteries. remember, this equipment was donated to thailand from the usa and germany.


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