BANGKOK – A prominent seismologist at the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Dr. Pennung Warnitchai, has warned Authorities in Northern and Western Provinces that any new building construction in the region should put more emphasis on earthquake-resistant engineering to limit the damage if they are hit by quakes.
Speaking at a seminar organized by the Engineering Institute of Thailand and the Thailand Research Fund, Dr. Warnitchai said buildings and homes are vulnerable to shaking as a result of powerful earthquakes and that “blind” faults that have not been officially recorded post a threat in these provinces.
He told the “Earthquake Management and Disaster Mitigation” seminar that it is understood among seismic wave scientists that earthquakes could happen anywhere and anytime. Even in places that are not located close to faults.
Saying there are many “blind” faults under the earth which cannot be detected or their locations established by seismologists.
He said that the 6.3 magnitude earthquake that hit Chiang Rai province in May 2014 was a warning sign for all Provinces and related agencies to strengthen building construction codes. Legal amendments to ensure quake-resistant building construction should also be considered in response to these facts, he said.
It wasn’t till after the quake in Chiang Rai that local administrative bodies in the province issued regulations that any building over three levels should be constructed based on a quake-resistant architecture.
Dr. Warnitchai said the challenge now is to implement regulations on two and single-level buildings as there is no law or codes for earthquake construction in these cases. The public needs to be educated about the risk of quakes and make sure they undertake sound preparations.
In Bangkok, the seismologists emphasized concerns over large earthquakes a long way away due to the influence of soft mud in the capital, which could amplify the power of earthquake by four times.
According to an Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) study, it has predicted that 17 high-rise buildings in the capital will collapse if there is a strong quake.
Dr Warnitchai said the study was undertaken two years ago, but more information needs to be gathered to predict possible damage, particularly regarding the soil.
The Engineering Institute of Thailand and the Thailand Research Fund organized the Seminar