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Wave of quake concern spreads across country

Apr 20. 2012
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By The Nation

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The recent quakes in Phuket sparked concerns across the country over potential future disasters.

Discussions on earthquake emergencyresponse and disaster-prevention plans have since been held in many provinces. 

“We are worried. Many of us have raised the issue of safety measures and earlywarning systems,” South Tourism Federation secretary general Kannikar Eawsakun said yesterday. 
The stampede of coastal residents and tourists on April 11 in the wake of the 8.6magnitude earthquake off the coast of Indonesia’s Sumatra has underlined the lack of adequate preparations. 
“The scenes were chaotic. The authorities have not yet designated safe areas for evacuation,” Kannikar said. 
Samniang Maneerat, acting chief of Ranong’s disaster prevention and mitigation, said there was no evacuation zones designated in Mueang Ranong district because the area was previously seen as safe. 
“We will convene a meeting with relevant agencies to decide which areas should be declared muster points and safe zones,” she said. 
Bangkok Council president Suttichai Weerakulsunthorn said the tremor from the Phuket quake had been felt by people in highrise buildings in the capital.
“We may need to review laws related to quakes and fire,” he said. 
The owners of highrise buildings in Bangkok will also be invited to a meeting on emergency response and necessary measures, he added. 
“Our teams from the Public Works Department will inspect skyscrapers in the capital to determine whether they have adequate systems to deal with earthquakes,” Suttichai said. 
In Mae Hong Son, the director of an irrigation project expressed concerns about the risk of a dam bursting in the wake of a big quake.
“Huai Mae Hong Song Dam would not be able to accommodate a quake measuring more than magnitude 7,” Katanyu Janchuen said.
“If it bursts, water will swamp Mueang Mae Hong Son Municipality within 15 minutes,” he said. 
Deputy Prime Minister Yongyuth Wichaidit, however, urged the public not to be overly concerned. “Quakes happen in Japan frequently. Things may sway but people can live normal lives,” he said.

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