Thai beaches to get early tsunami warning system

Thailand will have tsunami early warning systems installed on beaches along the Andaman coast in time for one-year memorial ceremonies next month.

Thousands of Thais and foreigners are expected to travel to beaches in southern Thailand in late-December to remember victims of the tsunami, which killed at least 5,400 people in Thai resort areas, half of them foreign tourists.

“By December 26, we have made sure that the six beaches where we are going to have the ceremonies will each have at least two early warning system towers,” said Deputy Prime Minister Suwat Liptapanlop.

The towers will have public announcement systems, sirens and warning lights, and will be linked to early warning system centres in Bangkok and around the world, said Suwat, who is also in charge of the anniversary ceremonies.

He said Thailand planned to install tsunami measurement buoys in the sea next year, but until then, geological stations that register earthquakes elsewhere can provide accurate warnings for Thailand.

“Even if we don’t have the buoys, we can tell if there will be one,” Suwat said. Information from other countries “is enough to tell if there will be a tsunami, but we need our own early warning system so we can double check. However, the information from other countries can be trusted.”

Thailand will set up 62 warning towers in the six tsunami-hit southern provinces – 12 by the end of this year and the remainder by March, Suwat said. The Bangkok early warning centre will be linked with international early warning centres, especially near earthquake epicentres such as the south of Indonesia’s Sumatra Island – the epicentre of the 9.0-magnitude quake that triggered last year’s tsunami.

“The information will come from other countries to Bangkok, and from Bangkok to the 62 points,” Suwat said, adding that from the towers, sirens will sound, warning lights will flash and announcements will be made in many languages that a tsunami is coming.

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