CHIANG RAI – There is an increased likelihood of landslides in the North this rainy season because of the big earthquake in Chiang Rai on May 5, Chatchai Phromlert, director-general of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, said on Friday.
Mr Chatchai reported the landslide threat in the North to a meeting with acting caretaker Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan, who visited Chiang Rai province on Friday.
Chiang Rai was the center of the shallow magnitude 6.3 earthquake on May 5 that caused widespread damage. It was the strongest recorded quake with its epicenter inside Thailand.
Mr Chatchai said that the earthquake was caused by movements in the Phayao fault line. It was a small fault line but the effects would continue through this rainy season, with an increased likelihood of landslides.
He ordered staff in six northern provinces to prepare their local authorities to cope with possible landslides.
Chiang Rai governor Pongsak Wangsamer said the quake caused underground cracks and raised landslide concerns and landslide warnings in the region were necessary.
The governor also reported that the May 5 earthquake damaged 8,500 houses in Phan and Mae Lao districts of Chiang Rai. He said 104 houses were leveled. Many local temples were also damaged because their structures were not strong enough to withstand the shaking. An elderly woman was killed and 24 other people suffered injuries in the quake.
About 20% of hotel reservations in Chiang Rai were cancelled in the wake of the disaster but in the tourism sector such impacts were always of limited duration, Mr Pongsak said.
He asked banks to offer special assistance to quake victims in his province.
He also requested the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives to quickly allocate payments for pledged rice to farmers in Phan and Mae Lao districts who participated in the government’s rice-pledging scheme.
Mr Pongsak reported that after the May 5 quake there were 804 immediate aftershocks and small tremors were still occurring at longer intervals.