Contact Us

HOME > 21st JAMCO Online International Symposium > Question

JAMCO Online International Symposium

21st JAMCO Online International Symposium

March 14 to September 15, 2013

Tsunami Response Systems and the Role of Asia's Broadcasters


Question by Mohamed Shareef Asees (Visiting Lecturer, Colombo University)

First of all I would like to thank to Professor Supanee Nitsmer for posting an article about “Tsunami Response Systems and the Role of Asia’s Broadcasters.” In fact, it was very informative and well analyzed. It seems that both Thailand and Sri Lanka experienced the first major tsunami attack in 2004. However, in terms of transmitting or broadcasting the message Thailand was able to act faster than Sri Lanka. Was there any early warning system prior to the tsunami?

Answer by Supanee Nitsmer (Assistant Professor, Ramkhamhaeng University, Bangkok)

I would like to thank Mr. Asees for enquiring the question: Was there any early warning system prior to tsunami?

Based on documents gathered, I would say that before the 2004 Tsunami, Thailand and Sri Lanka were about the same, “We had no early warning system,” as you mentioned that:

“In Sri Lanka there were no early warning systems for a tsunami prior to 2004. Different government institutions are mandated to monitor and issue early warnings in the case of different hazards.”

Whereas, in the section “Tsunami Warning System in Thailand” of my paper, I mentioned that:

“The development of the Early Warning Systems (EWS) in Thailand has received an exceptional amount of attention and resources in the aftermath of the December 26, 2004.

The satellite-based National Disaster Early Warning System (Figure 5) had been set up in Thailand. Indeed, this was the first time in Thailand’s history that a disaster warning system had been set up in the kingdom.”
(Emphasis added by the respondent)

However, Thailand seems to have been able to act faster than Sri Lanka in terms of transmitting or broadcasting warning messages. It might be because during the 2004 Tsunami, Thailand’s Department of Mineral Resource (DMR- detected earthquake in Indonesia and Thai Meteorological Department (TMD in Bangkok received earthquake felt from metering equipment installed at provincial stations.

Unfortunately, even though departments knew there was an earthquake there was no special warning system for Tsunami. So, the official warning did not imply that Tsunami would occur. This can be seen from the announcement (from my paper) below:

TMD issued an official statement about the earthquake felt in Thailand:
“At 7:58:53 a.m., December 26, 2004 (local time in Thailand), an earthquake emerged, with an epicenter to the west of North Sumatra, Indonesia, or latitude 3.4°N, longitude 95.7°E, 40 km deep in the earth. An earthquake of magnitude 8.0 on the Richter scale was felt in many provinces of Thailand, especially in high buildings in Bangkok, Chiangmai, Chaingrai, Songkhla, and Phuket. At this stage, damages haven’t been reported yet.
(Emphasis added by the respondent)

In order to inform the public, both DMR and TMD attempted to disseminate the news to broadcasters. However, in the midst of the crisis, nobody knew what tsunami was. This is the reason why only few small media took action. Mass media really worked hard only after the Tsunami hit the west coast of Thailand.
Past Symposiums

Copyright Japan Media Communication Center All rights reserved. Unauthorized copy of these pages is prohibited.