What You Should Know About Tsunamis in Phuket

by Mama Loves Phuket

Do you have concerns about Tsunami’s in Phuket?

Understandably, many of you may have strong memories of the disastrous events that unfolded on 26 December 2004. One of the island’s most devastating events was when a magnitude 9.1 Indian Ocean earthquake led to over 220,000 losing their lives in South East Asia.

The destruction in Phuket was responsible for an estimated 250 lives being lost and countless buildings and businesses completely destroyed.

an abandoned hotel in phuket with devastating effects of the tsunami in 2004 destroying buildings
The devastation caused by the 2004 tsunami | Image credit vicnt2815 Depositphotos

Explaining Tsunamis To Kids

Normally excited about our trips to Phuket, my middle boy had been studying tsunamis in school and expressed his sudden fear of this occurrence. To put his mind at ease, we studied what to do in the event of a tsunami, and some reassurance on the likeliness and what you can do should the worst happen.

We hope just as this has now given him comfort (though he fully admits still having complete fear!) that, this will help you also prepare.

Phuket is located in an area that is at risk of tsunamis, and the region has experienced significant tsunami damage in the past, most notably in the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.

Here are some things you should know about tsunamis in Phuket:

  1. Be aware of the tsunami warning signs: If you are at the beach or near the coast, be aware of the warning signs that indicate a potential tsunami, such as the water receding unusually far from the shore or a loud roaring noise from the ocean.
  2. Follow the instructions of local authorities: If there is a tsunami warning or evacuation order, follow the instructions of local authorities and move to higher ground or an evacuation center as quickly as possible.
  3. Stay informed: Stay up to date on weather and ocean conditions and listen for any alerts or warnings issued by local authorities or the Thai Meteorological Department.
  4. Have an emergency plan: If you are staying in Phuket, have an emergency plan in place in case of a tsunami, including a designated meeting spot, emergency supplies, and contact information for local authorities.
  5. Be prepared: Make sure you have a basic understanding of what to do in the event of a tsunami, and consider taking a first aid or emergency response course.

It’s important to take tsunamis seriously and be prepared, but it’s also worth noting that they are relatively rare events. The Thai government has implemented measures to improve early warning systems and response capabilities in the event of a tsunami.

When arriving at a new beach you are unfamiliar with, look out for these signs:

a tsunami danger zone sign in phuket
a tsunami warning sign in phuket

What Are The Odds of Another Tsunami In Phuket?

The likelihood of another megathrust earthquake and subsequent tsunami of a similar magnitude to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake is difficult to predict with certainty, as earthquakes are inherently unpredictable. However, scientists agree that the risk of such an event occurring in the future remains high.

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the region is known to have a history of large earthquakes and tsunamis and the underlying tectonic forces that caused the 2004 earthquake have not been fully relieved. As a result, there is the potential for another earthquake of similar magnitude to occur in the future.

In a study published in the journal “Nature” in 2015, researchers analyzed sediment cores from the Andaman Sea and found evidence of 11 previous earthquakes that ruptured the tectonic plate boundary in the region over the past 1,000 years. The researchers concluded that the risk of a future earthquake in the region is high and that the area should be prepared for another possible tsunami.

Therefore, while it is impossible to predict exactly when or if another event like the 2004 tsunami will occur, it is clear that the region is at risk of experiencing a similar disaster again in the future. It is essential to continue monitoring and studying the area’s tectonic activity to understand the risks better and prepare for possible future events.

More on Safety in Phuket

Although Phuket is considered a “safe” place to vacation with your family, you may understandably have some concerns and reservations if you are new to travelling to this part of the world. To help give you some assurances, you may also like to read next:


  • United States Geological Survey (USGS) – “The 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami: Initial Findings on Tsunami Sand Deposits, Damage, and Inundation in Sri Lanka”
  • Nature – “A 1,000-year-long record of large earthquakes reveals complex rupture behavior” (2015)

© Mama Loves Phuket

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