14.04.2012 Tsunami warning on April 11th, 2012
15:45 a minor earthquake was felt in different parts of Thailand. We immediately received some phone calls inquiring whether we had information on what had happened and where.
15:47 our phones and computers received warnings regarding the earthquake on Sumatra, which reached an 8.9 on the Richter scale. A tsunami warning had also been sent out automatically due to the strength of the earthquake. All of the Raya Divers’ centers (Phuket, Raya Yai, Khao Lak, Krabi and Koh Lanta) also received the alarm approximately simultaneously from the authorities and through the speakers on the beaches.
15:50 all the Raya Divers’ centers had been informed internally of the matter and the center managers began to follow the emergency procedures. Ground staff and clients were evacuated to specific meeting points. The boats out at sea (the only center with a boat out at sea was Krabi, the rest had already returned ashore) were instructed to sail onto deeper water and wait for further instructions.
16:00-17:00 everyone had been reached (all staff and clients concerned) and escorted to a safe location, and an information center had been set up in a restaurant on top of the Big Buddha hill. The center gathered information through the internet, via phone and from the authorities, and informed the other centers and third parties accordingly of the situations evolvement.
17:00-18:00 we kept gathering information and informing our friends, relatives and business partners of the situation. According to the internet, the expected time of impact for Thailand’s coast was at 18:18lt. The institute of seismology however predicted there were no direct signs of danger, as the earthquake had been horizontal which generally does not generate a tsunami. Nowhere in the vicinity of the earthquake had there either been noted any abnormalities in the ocean’s movement.
17:43 a new tsunami warning (milder than the previous one) was passed due to an after-shock which reached an 8.2 on the Richter scale. All the centers were again informed accordingly and the evacuation sites were asked to prepare for a two hour extension to the original waiting time.
18:00-19:00 we waited for something to happen, but nothing out of the ordinary was experienced. We heard some controversial rumors that the sea level had fallen drastically, which could anticipate a tsunami. More probable is that it was just a question of normal low tide, which according to the tide tables occurred at the same time. There were also reports on the internet regarding 0.19 - 0.36 meter tsunami waves, which in reality have no true relevance.
19:00-20:00 we began arranging transportation back to the hotels and our homes. We received trustworthy confirmation from the beach that the surface level in Phuket was completely normal and the sea calm.
20:03 confirmation was received from different parties that the warning had officially been cancelled and it was safe for people to return to the vicinity of the beaches.
20:05-21:00 our clients were transported back to their hotels and we ourselves returned to our homes.
As a whole, we can say this was a successful tsunami drill, and the cooperation between Thai authorities, hotels, travel agents, the embassy and Raya Divers was very good from beginning to end. Thank you to everyone for their exceptional actions and performance, and also a great big thank you to our clients for staying calm during this uncertain situation.