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Tsunami warning buoys in Thailand have stopped working

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Phuket: The National Disaster Warning Center (NDWC) in Bangkok has confirmed that the tsunami warning buoys spread west of Phuket that Thailand has a responsibility to maintain have stopped working.

One of the tsunami warning buoys has been searched for its components, while the other is still transmitting data in real time, liberated from sea floor mooring and drifting aimlessly about 200 km west of Phuket, Dr Prasong Thamapala, Acting Director of the Information Technology Center Communications at the NDWC, per The Phuket News.

However, Dr Prasong urged people not to panic, because the “outdoor” warning buoy, located 600 nautical miles west of Phuket, is just one of a host of tsunami warning buoys that are still operational.

The Bay of Bengal Array was created by an international project with different countries responsible for their warning buoys, all of which supply real-time data to a tsunami alert system monitored by the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), he said.

Other warning buoys feed data into the same network. Dr Prasong explained that if an earthquake happened underwater there, we would be notified by the same system.

He repeated, “Please do not be upset or afraid that we will miss any signs of an earthquake.”

Dr Prasong said the Indian Navy called the NDWC in January to inform them that a Thai buoy in the Bay of Bengal, known as “Terminal 23401”, had been damaged.

“They took pictures showing the buoy was broken into. The battery and equipment were removed,” he added.

Dr Prasong said that simply making arrangements to repair the float has already proven challenging.

Numerous budgets have been stripped to fund COVID relief projects, and an expert from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is also getting to fly from the United States to ensure that the equipment reinstalled in the buoy is properly calibrated to flow data into the network that NOAA operates. Cumbersome.

“We can’t fix this ourselves. It includes sensitive information in order to connect to the satellite system. We need experts from NOAA to do this part,” said Dr. Prasong.

He added, “I have already contacted them in the United States to send an expert to Thailand, but the COVID-19 restrictions make this difficult.”

Meanwhile, the second tsunami warning buoy, “Station 23461”, is now missing from its usual location in the Andaman Sea, about 280 kilometers northwest of Phuket.

The good news, Dr Prasong explained, is that the buoy is still transmitting real data, including its GPS location.

He said, “I think a fishing boat collided with it again, breaking its anchor to the bottom of the sea.”

“But we are still getting data from him, including his location, which makes it a lot easier to find and bring it back to its correct location.”

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