Tsunami survivors sue over lack of disaster warning

THE federal agency that operates the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre is being sued by Indian Ocean tsunami survivors and relatives of victims.

The suit alleges the centre in Ewa Beach and other defendants did not do enough to protect people from the 26 December tsunami, which killed as many as 300,000 people throughout southern Asia.

The lawsuit does not seek damages, but instead asks the court to preserve evidence for the plaintiffs so they can decide whether to pursue damages, an attorney said.

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"At least they should have the option to know what is going on," said Edward Fagan, the United States attorney for the plaintiffs group, which includes at least 58 European survivors and family members of those killed in the disaster.

The lawsuit claims the Thai government is destroying and concealing evidence that will prove its officials knew of the approaching tsunami but chose not to issue a warning fearing its effect on the country’s tourism industry. The suit was filed last week in US District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Named as defendants are the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Thailand’s government, its Meteorological Department and the Accor group, the French owner of the Sofitel hotel chain which owns a beach-front tourist hotel in Phuket, Thailand.

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