bbs: brad brace sound weblog
Victims Sue Thailand, U.S., Accor Over TsunamiÂ
U.S. and Austrian lawyers have filed a lawsuit demanding Thailand, U.S. forecasters and the French Accor group answer accusations they failed in a duty to warn populations hit by December’s Tsunami disaster, a lawyer said Monday.
The lawsuit was filed Friday at a New York district court on behalf of tsunami victims by lawyers including U.S. attorney Edward Fagan, internationally renowned for 1990s lawsuits against Swiss banks over Holocaust-era accounts. It demanded an account of their actions on Dec. 26.
“We expect a hearing within 30 days,” Austrian lawyer Gerhard Podovsovnik told Reuters.
“We don’t earn any money on the lawsuit. We want to help people,” he said. “We are suing to get information.”
The disaster left about 300,000 people dead or missing in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Maldives, Bangladesh and East Africa. Hundreds of thousands lost their homes.
The text of the lawsuit is available on the Web site www.tsunamivictimsgroup.com.
The U.S. and Austrian lawyers filed the lawsuit on behalf of around 60 named plaintiffs from Austria, Germany, France, Netherlands and elsewhere. Podovsovnik said they were also acting on behalf of at least 40 more not named.
The lawsuit suggests the Thai government and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which operates a Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii, failed to issue the requisite warnings.
“Respondent NOAA did not notify all involved countries which lay in the tsunami’s path. From public information it appears that … NOAA failed to issue an alert that would notify countries where the tsunami hit that the deadly wave was coming,” the lawsuit said.
“Published reports emerged that upon receipt of the NOAA alert and other data, the seismological and oceanographic experts of Thailand spent more than one hour talking about what the risk may or may not have been, instead of immediately issuing a warning to their population,” it said.
It also accused Thailand of failing to notify Sri Lanka that a tsunami wave was headed its way.
Among the charges leveled against Accor, the owner of the Sofitel hotel chain, was failure to equip its luxury resort and spa in Khao Lak, Thailand with state-of-the-art seismic detection and warning systems, despite its location “in an earthquake and tsunami fault zone.”
Last month, Accor issued a statement denying media reports of possible negligence in connection with the tsunami disaster. “The allegations concerning Accor are completely unfounded,” Accor said on its Web Site.
Thailand to build tsunami attraction
The Thai government has unveiled plans to build a simulated tsunami attraction in the region worst hit by the disaster to draw tourists back to the area.
Authorities have spent $4 million to prove to 1,000 media and travel agents the nation has recovered after waves ravaged its shores, killing at least 5,300 people, following the December 26 earthquake in the Indian Ocean.
About 15 Australians died in Phuket, Phi Phi Island, Khao Lak and Krabi, the west coast areas worst hit in the Boxing Day Tsunami.
Phuket’s world famous Patong Beach – now stripped of its beachfront shops – was thrown open this weekend for a beach bash complete with fireworks to show the island was ready to move on.
Speaking on behalf of the Thai Prime Minister, Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Juthamas Siriwan told the international delegation about large-scale plans to re-market the region to foreign and local tourists.
Authorities would open a tsunami memorial museum complete with a simulated tidal wave in Khao Lak, the region made infamous by post-tsunami photos of bodies and debris floating in the water.
“It would firstly educate everyone who comes to Phuket to make them aware of how these kinds of things happen,” Ms Siriwan told reporters at a conference on the island.
“And at the same time, because tourism is an enjoyable product, we would also… like to (use technology) to make the museum more attractive and interesting by making a simulation of a tidal wave.
“I talked to the architect and they say they are going to make something like that so maybe this will be the next Universal Studios of the tsunamis in Khao Lak.”
She said the region would now be remade as an exclusive beach resort for wealthy couples and families.
“The government will concentrate on making Khao Lak even better than before,” Ms Siriwan said.
Patong would be redesigned as a “modern beach city” with hotels and shops no longer on the beachfront.
“We don’t want to repeat the same mistakes again,” she said.
Kamala beach, a badly damaged strip of coast neighbouring Patong will be developed into a traditional culture hub while Phi Phi Island, largely wiped out by the wave would be returned to a “paradise island for relaxing”.
A tsunami early warning system based on marine monitoring and SMS warnings would be in place later this month and lifeguards would be installed on all tourist beaches.
She said regional airports and roads would be upgraded and international tourists would be offered complementary domestic flights to encourage people back.
I’m back from three months in Thailand — mostly spent on a small squid-fishing island/village, as part of my ongoing multimedia project about Islands.