Information: While the government commended the role played by the media during disasters, the Prime Minister, however, cautioned the media to ensure that their reporting does not create panic among the people.

During a press conference held in Thimphu yesterday, Lyonchoen Tshering Tobgay, said because all are concerned, pictures of every landslide are posted on social media including small ones that could be cleared in a few hours.

“It becomes an issue and fuels panic to the public when the media starts covering it. It may be news but be careful; it may not be necessary to cover it. If a road is blocked and it would take more than a day to clear, then it’s news. I have to be honest I was more concerned on this,” Lyonchoen said.

As a government we have been compiling information and as the chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority, I was aware of the information everyday, Lyonchoen said.

“There’s a whole section on what’s happening in every dzongkhag; information on medical supplies including essential drugs, daily information on Food Corporation of Bhutan’s stocks, hourly and daily weather forecasts – the water levels and situations in the regions not just in Bhutan, information on mobile towers that are not functioning, information on fuel stocks of all outlets, situation of LPG cylinders availability, situation of all the gewog centre roads and national highways – where the major landslides are, what is being done there and when can we expect to clear it,” Lyonchoen said.

Some of the agencies that provide information during such disasters are not coordinated, he added.

“During a crisis, it’s not possible that all the information will be provided step by step from the government agencies because that would mean the information that are given out are too late,” he said. “I just want to assure you that we compile the information that are given out twice a day before it’s published on social media and on an hourly basis for issues that are critical, such as how much the river has risen on an hourly basis.”

I normally try to restrict my personal social media activities to areas that I am personally involved with. If I start “tweeting” about what other ministers are doing then people will be flooded with tweets so I am trying to keep it as personal as possible, Lyonchoen said.

“During a time of crisis, we all must come together and try our best to spread information and it’s better to have all that and not have it. It’s important to disseminate information that is important to give a perspective on the scale of the disaster,” Lyonchoen said.

Thinley Zangmo