Thailand lifts tsunami warning for six Andaman provinces

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BANGKOK, April 11 – Thailand has lifted its tsunami warning for six Andaman coastal provinces after today’s massive earthquake off the Indonesian coast, Minister of Information and Communication Technology Anudith Nakornthap announced on Wednesday night.

In a national televised address at 8.45pm, the minister said that after the major earthquake and aftershocks in Indonesia, Thailand’s National Disaster Warning Centre closely monitored all factors for a possible tsunami and found only minor waves having no significant impact

The government, therefore, decided to lift the tsunami warning for Phuket, Phang-nga, Krabi, Trang, Satun and Ranong, he said.

Earlier, Army spokesman Col Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the military was ready to provide assistance to the public if a tsunami hit the Thai coastline.

He said the army prepared soldiers and equipment in response to the possible disaster emergency while both Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters were on standby for the mission.

Spokesman Capt Nipon Chamachot said the Royal Thai Navy ordered all departments to closely monitor the situation and the 3rd Naval Area Command was instructed to stand by, ready to evacuate people in the six Andaman provinces.

Air Force spokesman Air Vice Marshal Monthon Satchukorn said that three C-130 transport planes stood ready at Don Mueang Airport with medical equipment.

The alerts were cancelled several hours later after the waves were less than a metre higher than normal in some areas.

Tourism and Sports Minister Chumpol Silpa-archa assigned tourist police to coordinate with the navy to provide transport to collect stranded tourists at islands and provincial airports, according to the ministry’s permanent secretary.

Earlier, Phuket International Airport was temporarily closed and all flights were cancelled following the earthquake.

Phuket Disaster Prevention and Mitigation chief Sant Chantarawong praised the orderly evacuation of this popular tourist destination, saying all 19 tsunami-warning towers in three districts worked efficiently.

The effectiveness reflected how well-prepared the public are in their swift response to the jolt.

Recent drills among concerned agencies in the province also contributed to the public understanding and their knowledge on how to survive once such a natural disaster strikes, the senior official said.

Eight years ago, Thailand experienced the devastating 2004 tsunami when an earthquake measuring 9.1 struck off Indonesia, unleashing giant waves which left 5,400 dead, almost half of which were foreigners on holiday.