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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Thai Tsunami Warning System Fails to Work

BANGKOK, Thailand -- A crucial link in the communications chain to alert top Thai emergency officials of possible tsunamis failed to work Wednesday during a simulation of a Pacific region-wide warning system, a disaster response official said.

Messages from Thailand's National Disaster Warning Center sent by SMS to the country's five top emergency coordinators failed to reach their targets or were delayed for hours, said Dr. Cherdsak Virapat, the center's chief for International Coordination.

According to Thailand's disaster preparedness plans, the center was then supposed to inform its five executive directors of the alert by SMS, before informing other officials including the prime minister and provincial governors.

But the phone network used to send the SMS messages failed to deliver them immediately, he said.

"We found some problems," Cherdsak told The Associated Press in a phone interview. "Today the mobile phone system run by one network has failed, so we got the message via another system."

He said he would propose solutions to the problem for the Thai Cabinet's consideration next week.

For a real-life situation, alternative communication systems such as radio would be needed, he said.

The drill showed other weaknesses in the communication involving dependence on telephones, he added, saying that greater use of two-way radios was needed.