The Evacuation of Thai Citizens During Japan’s 2016 Kumamoto Earthquakes: An ICT Perspective
Natt Leelawat*,†, Anawat Suppasri**, Panon Latcharote** and Fumihiko Imamura**
*Department of Industrial Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Chulalongkorn University
Phayathai Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
**International Research Institute of Disaster Science, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan
In April 2016, the Kumamoto earthquakes in Japan killed 50 people and injured more than 3,000. Because Japan is a primary tourist destination for Thai citizens, due in part to the current visa relaxation policy, many Thai people were visiting Japan when these earthquakes occurred. However, while a variety of public information related to the imminent danger and disaster response was broadcast and published, foreigners sometimes had little access to or understanding of local notices or instructions because of language barriers.
This study researches the evacuation process for Thai citizens – including tourists, students, and residents from Thailand – in the disaster-affected areas during the 2016 Kumamoto earthquakes. Through prompt collaboration among the relevant organizations, particularly the Royal Thai Embassy in Tokyo, the evacuation of Thai citizens was successfully completed within a few days. Moreover, some other foreigners were also assisted by the Thai embassy. This paper presents an overview of the evacuation process, including the critical role of information and communication technology (ICT) in disseminating information, transmitting rescue requests, and providing emergency communications. The lessons learned from these efforts can be applied in future natural disasters, especially for foreign organizations working in similar capacities overseas. In addition, this study suggests disaster preparedness and response guidelines for tourists when traveling overseas.
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