Posted by Andrew on 17 September 2007, 6:19 am
Residents and tourists were on alert after news broke of an earthquake off the coast of Sumatra on September 16th. However, no tsunami warning was issued and the Phuket coast in Thailand was deemed to be in no danger of being affected.
The 8.4 richter scale earthquake which killed 23 and injured 88 others produced more than 40 aftershocks but no large scale tsunami similar to the one that killed hundreds of thousands in 2004. The epicenter of the quake was more than 2000kms from Phuket and with the land mass of Sumatra in between, the risk of a tsunami was never considered.
Nonetheless, news of the quake had people in Phuket panicking and running for higher ground in anticipation of the giant waves wreaking havoc once more on Phuket’s beaches.
Residents in Bangkok, more than 1000kms north, felt the quake, as tall buildings swayed and water in swimming pools on roofs experienced sloshing water. Panicking office workers fled buildings as the effects continued for five minutes.
Despite all this, the newly established Tsunami Warning Network, correctly chose not to issue a tsunami warning fearing it would cause unnecessary panic when the risk to Phuket was minimal.
Warning sirens are now installed on all tourist beaches along Thailand’s Andaman Coast, along with lookout posts and evacuation routes to higher ground. They are linked to a series of ocean bouys to measure movements out at sea as well as reports to the Metrological Department from earthquake centres along the deadly fault line off Indonesia’s west coast.
Experts have warned that the continual series of strong earthquakes along this fault line since the monster that triggered the 2004 tsunami all suggest that a much larger quake is now much more likely to occur in the foreseeable future.
Pictures of the Tsunami in Phuket