Thai villagers fight to save quake-hit homes

Thai villagers fight to save quake-hit homes
Following the 6.3-magnitude quake on Monday, residents in Chiang Rai

THAILAND - Somneuk Wanna, a 57-year-old villager from the Mae Lao district, has started to repair his home after the damage inflicted by the 6.3-magnitude earthquake. However, he is afraid the building might collapse after finding large amounts of mud pouring out from the foundations.

"I am still afraid that some day in the near future my house will collapse. I think there is a hole under it," he said. The bedroom on the first floor of his house was damaged by the mud slush, and so too was the wall surrounding the building and the basic structure of his house.

Like Somneuk, Chan Utma, 60, faced a similar situation. She was afraid to sleep in her own house as mud bubbled up from underground near the house pillars.

"I need some experts to study the structure of the building to see if it is strong enough to stand," she said.

Sambat Pintasarn, 39, has asked his relatives to help fix up his damaged house. All its pillars were damaged by the quake and most have collapsed. He is using dozens of small logs to support it.

"I don't know what to do at this time. The only thing I can do is find something to hold up my house before it falls down," he said. However, he is still worried with financial problems as he has to pay back a monthly debt to the bank from whom he had taken a loan to build the house.

"It would be good for us if the government could help us resolve our financial problems," he said. In the future, he said he would design his house in a way as to withstand another earthquake.

"The government should send some officials to tell us how to construct our house to make it quake-proof," he added.

Meanwhile, Sarinthip Kukam of the Department of Mineral Resources, has visited Ban San Kan Haew to investigate the quake damage. She warned villagers to stay away from their houses for now as aftershocks from the magnitude-5 quake are still likely at any time. Sleeping in their homes could be dangerous, she said.

Sarinthip advised locals to use foundation poles that go more than five metres deep into the ground for the construction of their repaired houses.

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