Phuket Airport re-opens after tsunami scare

2012-04-12 10:01

Bangkok - Flights to and from Phuket Airport were back to normal on Thursday after being shut down during a tsunami scare sparked by a 8.6-magnitude earthquake off Indonesia.

"Actually the airport already re-opened Wednesday night after the tsunami warning was lifted," said Bang-orurat Shinaprayon, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

Thailand's National Disaster Warning Centre on Wednesday afternoon issued a tsunami warning to the six provinces along the Andaman Sea; Krabi, Phuket, Phangnga, Ranong, Satun and Trang.

It lifted it at about 20:00 (13:00 GMT) when it was clear the earthquake off Aceh in Indonesia had failed to generate a tsunami.

Tsunami sirens were activated and hundreds of tourists evacuated in Patong and other popular beaches on Phuket Island, 700km south of Bangkok.

Flights delayed

"The warnings systems worked well," Bang-orarut said. "All sectors, the hoteliers, government offices and the warning centre co-ordinated very well and controlled the situation," she added.

Phuket International Airport was closed for several hours during the scare, with more than 15 flights delayed.

It was unclear whether the tsunami scare would lead to a rash of hotel cancellations on Phuket, which drew 5.4 million tourists last year, Bang-orurat said.

A 9.1-magnitude quake off Aceh on December 26 2004, caused a tsunami that killed more than 5 400 people in Thailand, half of them foreign tourists in the popular beach resorts on the Andaman Sea coast.