Memories of the killer 2004 tsunami prompted panicked evacuations in many coastal areas of our region after a powerful earthquick hit off Sumatra.
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Women hug in the streets following a powerful earthquake in Sumatera, Indonesia. The quake prompted an Indian Ocean-wide tsunami alert. AFP Photo.
Tsunami terror grips region
Mass panic ensues after quake, but no casualties
The hard lessons learned from the 2004 tsunami were put to the test as thousands of residents and tourists all along the Andaman coast rushed to higher ground following yesterday's 8.6-magnitude earthquake off Indonesia.
Tsunami alarms and warnings sounded across the region following the huge earthquake at 3.38pm Bangkok time. The US Geological Survey said the earthquake was centred 431km off the city of Banda Aceh, and was followed two hours later by an 8.2-magnitude underseas quake.
The tremors, which were felt by office workers in Bangkok, prompted authorities in Thailand, Indonesia, India, Malaysia and other countries around the Indian Ocean to issue evacuation warnings.
Thai authorities sounded alarms in six provinces – Phuket, Krabi, Phangnga, Ranong, Satun and Trang. The alert was cancelled several hours later, with no reports of damage or casualties although small waves 10cm high were reported off Phangnga.
Somsak Khaosuwan, director of the National Disaster Warning Centre, called off the tsunami warnings at 7.30pm.
"The highest waves from the first quake were recorded at 10 centimetres at Ko Miang in Phangnga, followed by a wave of 30cm from the second quake," he said, adding that no damage or impact from the quake was expected.
"The centre will remain on watch for another 24 hours. But residents may return to their homes."
Mr Somsak's announcement was followed by a taped television address from Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra urging the public to continue to exercise caution about potential aftershocks.
"The warning system and evacuation has gone smoothly. The public should continue to monitor developments until the National Disaster Warning Centre eases its alert," she said in a televised address around 8pm.
Most businesses are expected to resume operations today. Phuket international airport reopened last night following a four-hour closure. Other businesses, which largely closed early as staff moved to evacuation centres, are expected to reopen today.
Even in Bangkok, the earthquake and initial tsunami warnings prompted a number of companies to close early following reports of swaying buildings, and parliament cut short its debate on a government plan to amend the charter.
Taloengsak Phuwayanpong, an official at Krabi's natural disaster prevention centre, said provincial governor Prasit Osathanont instructed officials along the coast to sound a warning as soon as the earthquake struck.
"The people were told to evacuate to safe areas. There was no need to wait for an official warning," he said, adding that the tremors were felt in buildings across the province.
Somporn Phakdi, a businessman on Phi Phi Island, said island residents moved quickly to the evacuation centres as soon as the earthquake was felt.
"We've learned our lesson. When we hear about an earthquake, we take precautions and seek shelter on high ground, whether or not there is a chance of a tsunami," he said.
One tourist, Kittisak Charoenpanich, said he felt quite panicky and alarmed after the staff at his hotel in Krabi called for an evacuation.
"I remember watching the TV during the [2004 tsunami], and seeing videos of the big waves and how frightening it all was," he said.
The 2004 Boxing Day tsunami killed more than 230,000 people in 15 countries across the region, including an estimated 8,200 deaths in Thailand.
Acehnese people run shortly after a powerfull earthquake hit western coast of Sumatera in Banda Aceh on April 11, 2012. AFP PHOTO / CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN
In Aceh, Indonesia, the epicentre of the 2004 tsunami, residents yesterday fled in panic in attempts to move inland and to higher ground.
Others made no attempt at evacuation, and instead gathered at nearby mosques and schools to pray for the best.
"We ran as fast as we could," Banda Aceh resident Marhamah told dpa. "People cried, some running to the hills, while some men went to the mosque to recite prayers."
An expert with the British Geological Survey said the tsunamis were small because the quakes' movement was horizontal, not vertical, and caused no drop in the sea floor, which is what triggers tsunamis.
prompt – to cause someone to take action กระตุ้น
alert – a warning to people to be prepared to deal with something dangerous การเตือนให้ระวัง
terror – a feeling of extreme fear ความหวาดกลัว
grip – to have a strong affect on something มีผลกระทบ
mass – large numbers, in this case, of people จำนวนมาก
panic – a sudden strong feeling of fear or worry that causes you to be unable to think clearly or calmly ความตื่นตกใจ
region – a large area of land, usually without exact limits or borders ภูมิภาค, ขอบเขต, แถบ, บริเวณ
ensue – to happen after something else, often as a result of it ตามมา
casualties – deaths and injuries ผู้บาดเจ็บ เสียชีวิต
put to the test – to put somebody/something in a situation which will show what their or its true qualities are, i.e., whether or not they can perform effectively
residents – people who live in a particular area ประชาชนที่อาศัยในท้องที่
rush – to move or do something very quickly รีบเร่ง, วิ่ง
magnitude – size or strength ขนาด ความรุนแรง
alarm – a loud noise or a signal that warns people of danger or of a problem สัญญาณเตือนภัย
tremor – a shaking of the earth; a (usually slight) earthquake การสั่นสะเทือน
issue – to officially announce or give out ออก, ออกประกาศ, ออกคำสั่ง
evacuation – moving people from a place of danger to a safer place การอพยพ
authorities – people who have the power to make decisions or enforce the law เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ
wave – a raised line of water that moves across the surface of the sea, ocean, etc คลื่น
(natural) disaster –an unexpected natural event, such as a very bad storm or flood that kills a lot of people or causes a lot of damage ความหายนะธรรมชาติทาง, ภัยพิบัติธรรมชาติทาง
impact – an effect or influence ผลกระทบ
address – a formal speech คำปราศรัย
urge – to advise someone very strongly about what action or attitude they should take ผลักดัน, กระตุ้น
exercise – to use ใช้
caution – careful thought and lack of hurry in order to try to avoid risks or danger ความระมัดระวัง
potential – possible เป็นไปได้
aftershock – a sudden movement of the Earth's surface which often follows an earthquake and which is less violent than the first main movement แผ่นดินไหวเล็กน้อยที่เกิดหลังจากแผ่นดินไหวรุนแรง
smoothly – happening or continuing without any problems โดยไม่มีปัญหา
monitor – to regularly check someone/something จับตาดู เฝ้าระมัดระวัง
resume operations – to begin work again after stopping for a period of time ดำเนินต่อไปใหม่
initial – early; first เบื้องต้น
sway – to move slowly from side to side; to move something in this way แกว่งไปมา, โซเซ
debate – a discussion in which people or groups state different opinions about a subject การอภิปราย, การโต้วาที, การถกเถียง
amend – to make changes to a document, law, agreement, etc. especially in order to improve it การแก้ไข
charter – a constitution รัฐธรรมนูญ
instruct – to tell somebody to do something, especially in a formal or official way สั่ง
official – done by people in authority or decided by the government; announced publicly เป็นทางการ
precaution – an action taken to protect people or things against possible harm or trouble การป้องกันไว้ก่อน
shelter – a place where people are protected from danger or bad weather; a temporary place to stay ที่หลบภัย ที่พักชั่วคราว
panicky – anxious about something; feeling or showing panic ตกใจ
alarmed – worried or frightened that something unpleasant or dangerous might happen รู้สึกตระหนก กังวล
estimated – thought to be a particular amount, size, etc. based on a guess or the best information available ประมาณการ
epicenter – the point on the earth's surface where the effects of an earthquake are felt most strongly ศูนย์กลาง
fled (past of flee) – escaped; left an area very quickly because of a danger there หนีไป
recite – to say a poem, story or prayer that you have learnt อ่านออกเสียง
horizontal – flat and level; going across and parallel to the ground rather than going up and down ตามแนวนอน
vertical – going straight up or down from a level surface or from top to bottom in a picture, etc. ซึ่งตั้งตรง
trigger – to cause ก่อให้เกิด กระตุ้น
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