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Phuket officials play down broken tsunami buoy fears

Vice Governor Chokdee Amornwat on July 25 played down concerns in response to repeated requests for updates on what was being done to repair a tsunami-warning buoy that stopped transmitting data in March.

buoy fears“We checked with Ministry of Information and Communication Technology and received confirmation that they have been working on this and investigated why the buoy stopped sending data since March 22,” he said today.

V/Gov Chokdee said he had received repeated requests for updates following Facebook community “Phuket SOS”, which also uses the name “Phuket Quake Watcher”,  posting that tsunami-warning buoy 23401 was no longer operational.

“Phuket Quake Watcher recently posted on their Facebook page that tsunami-warning buoy no 23401, which is located about 1,100 kilometres west of Phuket, was not working. It has not sent back signal for the past 80 days,” V/Gov Chokdee said.

However, V/Gov Chokdee did not note that Phuket SOS posted the notice on June 21 – one day after The Phuket News reported that the National Disaster Warning Centre (NDWC) was aware of the situation but would have to wait until November, after the southwest monsoon had passed, before it could launch a mission to replace the damaged buoy.

“The NDWC will solve the issue by checking with other buoys in the area that are connected with the same system, especially the tsunami-warning buoys of India and Australia, which are near buoy 23401,” he said.

“Officials can also rely on the water-depth monitoring system off Koh Miang to confirm any tsunami activity and warn residents and tourists of any impending disaster,” he added.

“The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology will add more deep-water tsunami-warning buoys off the Andaman coast as soon as the weather permits and hopefully they will be able to do so latest by this November,” V/Gov Chokdee concluded.

The “same system” V/Gov Chokdee referred to is the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System, established in 2005 up in the aftermath of the devastating tsunami of December 26, 2004.

The IOTWS initially provided data from its tsunami-warning buoys to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre, operated under the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

However, although NOAA today still publishes data from tsunami-warning buoys including 23401, the PTWC ceased its role as the focal point for all data from tsunami-warning buoys deployed in the Indian Ocean under IOTWS in 2012.

Since then, IOTWS Regional Tsunami Service Providers comprising data from Australia, India and Indonesia tsunami-warning networks have been the principal source of tsunami advisories for the Indian Ocean.

Phuket News

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