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Fears of 'big one' on Mae Chan Fault

Nov 12. 2012
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By JANJIRA PONGRAI,
EKAPONG PRAD

Sunday's magnitude-6.8 earthquake and aftershocks in Myanmar have renewed fears in Thailand over safety from seismic strikes.

“We have to identify the quake risks of each type of building and prepare response measures,” Praneet Roybang, director-general of the Mineral Resources Department, said yesterday.

The department has called a meeting today with five agencies, including the National Disaster Warning Centre and Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, and experts to discuss the issue.

The tremors in Myanmar, which have killed at least seven people and injured dozens, also rocked parts of Thailand.

Praneet said that when a building starts shaking, people should quickly duck under a table to avoid getting hit by falling items.

A source from the department said people in Bangkok felt the shockwaves from more than 1,000 kilometres away in Myanmar because of the city’s geological foundation.

“Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani and Samut Prakan are also located on soft soil,” the source said.

These provinces are in Seismic Zone 1, or areas that can be affected by seismic upheavals from a great distance away, while 10 other provinces, mostly in the North, are in the Zone 2 or provinces close to fault lines, the source said.

Assoc Professor Sampan Singharajvarapan, director of the Earthquake Hazard Research Centre at Chiang Mai University, noted that the Mae Chan Fault stretches from Chiang Mai’s Mae Ae to eastern Laos.

“I’m worried about the Mae Chan Fault,” he said.

It could cause a quake that could exceed magnitude 6.0.

Authorities need to constantly check the strength of structures along the Mae Chan fault line to ensure that they will not immediately collapse if a big one hits, he said.

“If the buildings can withstand a quake of up to magnitude 6.5, we will be able to minimise losses,” he said.

Eight fault lines run through the North, while the seven others are the Mae Hong Son Fault, Mae Ping Fault, Mae Tha Fault, Phayao Fault, Thoen Fault, Pua Fault and Uttaradit Fault.

Sahawat Naenna, director-general of the Fine Arts Department, said he had already instructed officials in the North to examine whether any ancient site had been damaged.

Sakon Haipitakkul, director of Lamphun irrigation projects, said he received information about lights and hanging items swinging back and forth.

“But there’s no report of casualties,” he said.

 

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