In the past few years, tsunami drills have pointed to a number of problems and it is not clear that officials have paid enough attention.
Students and local residents run to safety during a tsunami drill at Patong Beach in Phuket. The drill was conducted yesterday in all Andaman coastal provinces. ACHADTAYA CHUENNIRAN
A group of survivors of the 2004 tsunami is demanding that the entire National Disaster Warning Centre executive board be sacked for incompetence after false alarms caused panic and an accident during a drill.
The group said in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban that it could not accept a simple apology from NDWC director Wiriya Mongkolweerapan.
The group said the annual tsunami drill held in Phangnga yesterday had been three months in the planning, yet still the centre's executives allowed mistakes to occur.
There was a false alarm less than half an hour after 2,500 villagers finished the drill in Ban Nam Khem in Takua Pa district, presided over by Mr Suthep.
Mr Suthep said before the drill that the government had made it a priority to build up the capability of personnel and prepare well for possible disasters.
The siren sounded from a tsunami warning tower, jolting villagers and causing panic, after the drill had ended and Mr Suthep had left the village. A motorcycle rider crashed in the confusion that followed, group leader Maitri Jongkraichak said in the letter. The panic did not subside as six more false alarms sounded every five minutes, convincing everyone in the fishing village that a gigantic surge of water was about to hit.
The group said people were afraid to return to their homes until well after noon.
The group said in their letter it was worried about what would happen if similar mistakes occurred when a real tsunami struck.
"So the people in the risk areas in six provinces cannot trust the NDWC executives to run the centre and ensure their safety," the letter said.
Officials said the mistake was caused by signals being sent from the NDWC in Bangkok to the tsunami warning tower in Ban Nam Khem. Officials at the centre were under the impression the signals were not triggering the alarms.
Annual tsunami drills are held simultaneously in six coastal provinces. They have been plagued by problems with the alarm system since the first test in 2005. There was a false alarm that year and another in July 2007 in Krabi, three days after the drill.
Residents of Phangnga and Trang complained in 2007 about the inadequacy of sirens while, in 2008, people in Trang and Ranong said the sirens were too faint.
Phangnga, Krabi, Trang, Ranong, Phuket and Satun were the six provinces hardest hit by the devastating tsunami of Dec 26, 2004, which claimed the lives of more than 5,000 Thais and foreign tourists.
Note: You can see a very similar story in Thai today's Post Today.
drill – a way of training people so that they know what to do when there is an emergency a way of training people so that they know what to do when there is an emergency การซ้อมแผนอพยพหนีภัย
concern – a worry ความกังวล
dismiss – to force someone to leave their job ไล่ออกจากตำแหน่ง
sack – to remove someone from a job ปลดออกจากตำแหน่ง
incompetence – lack of skill or ability to do something correctly or well การไม่มีความสามารถ
alarm – a piece of electrical equipment that warns you of danger, especially by making a loud noise สัญญาณเตือนภัย
false alarm – an occasion when people wrongly believe that something dangerous or unpleasant is happening or will happen
panic – a sudden strong feeling of fear or worry that causes you to be unable to think clearly or calmly ความตื่นตกใจ
apology – an act of saying sorry คำขอโทษ
annual – happening once a year ประจำปี
preside – to be in charge of an official meeting, ceremony or other event เป็นประธาน ในพิธี ในที่ประชุม
priority – something important that must be done first or needs more attention than anything else การให้ลำดับความสำคัญ
capability – the ability to do something ความสามารถ
siren – a piece of equipment that makes a loud sound, used for warning people เสียงหวอ
jolt – to shock; to cause to move suddenly ทำให้ตกใจ
subside – to become weaker, less violent, or less severe ลดลง
gigantic – extremely large มหึมา ใหญ่โต
surge – a sudden increase in something, in this case, water การเพิ่มขึ้นอย่างรวดเร็ว
struck (past of strike) – to hit someone or something forcefully or violently กระแทก, ชน
ensure – to make certain that something happens or is done รับรอง ให้ความมั่นใจ
under the impression – believing something which may or may not be true
trigger – to cause กระตุ้น
simultaneously – happening at the same time ในเวลาเดียวกัน,ที่พร้อมกัน
plagued – caused a lot of problems for someone or something for a long period of time ทำให้ยุ่งยาก ลำบากมานาน
inadequacy – the state of not being enough, or not good enough for a particular purpose ไม่เพียงพอ
faint – not strong or clear อ่อน
devastating – destroying a place or thing completely or causing great damage ทำลายล้าง
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