As announced by the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM) on 22 August 2008, the ASEAN Regional Disaster Emergency Response Simulation Exercise (code-named ARDEX-08) is now underway in Rayong Province, near Pattaya, Thailand.

Based on the exercise scenario, Typhoon “X” with a velocity of 140 km/hour landed at Muang District, Rayong, an industrial and coastal province in Thailand, this morning at 0500 hours. The scenario was subsequently elevated to a state of emergency as “Typhoon X” not only wreaked havoc and caused destruction across Rayong province, but also unleashed a number of chemical explosions which caused serious fires and chemical outbreaks. These resulted in a large number of fatalities and damages to buildings, infrastructure and environment, and forced thousands to evacuate the area. Assistance was sought from regional and international experts specialising in search and rescue, medical, firefighting, hazardous materials, and emergency rapid assessment. The ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre) in Jakarta coordinated with the authorities in Thailand for offers and requests for assistance from the region and international organisations. The emergency response operations swung into action from 0800 to 1500 hours in the designated exercise zone.

This is the scenario of the simulated exercise which is taking place at the Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate in Rayong Province with over 1,500 participants and observers. The media is also present to witness the event.

As the host country for this exercise, Thailand has mobilised more than 250 personnel from the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation and the local government agencies. Over 1,000 people are also deployed to role-play as the affected population in the evacuation centre and key informants for the assessment.

Joining Thailand in the exercise is Brunei Darussalam, who sent five special squad members from the Fire and Rescue Department comprising experts on HazMat, firefighting and search and rescue. Cambodia deployed three firefighting and chemical experts. Malaysia deployed six specialist rescuers from its Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team. The Philippines sent 30 medical personnel and appointed a Chief Referee for this exercise, heading a group of referees from ASEAN Member States and other international organisations. Singapore deployed one HazMat expert and five-man search and rescue firefighting team.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) deployed an international team, comprising eight members from the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team and partner agencies, to support the local authorities in the coordination of international assistance and humanitarian aid.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) teamed up with the Thai Red Cross to deploy two teams, consisting of four personnel from the Regional Disaster Response Team of the IFRC, 40 medical and relief personnel from Thai Red Cross and the local health authority, to assist in the operation.

The exercise will test the responders on their response to disaster emergency affecting a large number of casualties who require medical triage and evacuation; assessment of a large number of affected people spread in various locations; and assessment and attention to chemical explosions and fires. At the end of the exercise Mr. Prasong Konsitanondh, Deputy Minister of Interior, Thailand will officially conclude the event.

ARDEX-08 is the fourth in a series of annual disaster simulation exercise which ASEAN conducts annually to enhance the capacities and capabilities of Member States in joint emergency operations. It is guided by the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER). The first simulation exercise was held in Selangor, Malaysia in 2005. This was followed by the second one in Kein Svay District and Takhmau City in Cambodia in 2006, and the third one in Singapore last year.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) comprises the ten Member States of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam.

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For media inquiries, please contact:

Ms Adelina Kamal
Environment and Disaster Management
Bureau for Resources Development
The ASEAN Secretariat
Tel: (62-21) 7262991 ext. 316
Email: lina@asean.org / akamal.aseanhtf@gmail.com

Note: The disaster scenario depicted below is simulated and does not reflect the actual situation in Rayong Province, Thailand.