Aftershocks continue, warning of landslides

A 72-hour monitoring operation should be conducted following the tremors that rocked Chiang Rai and neighbouring provinces on Monday, and a warning has been issued of possible landslides, the Engineering Institute of Thailand under HM The King's Patronage (EIT) said at a seminar yesterday.

Among measures for monitoring are: the surveillance and inspection of dams in a 200-kilometre radius from the epicentre every six hours to watch out for quake-caused cracks or leaks; inspection of buildings on foothills, which are more vulnerable to aftershocks than those on ground level; and inspection of further damage to pillars and beams of buildings affected or damaged already, said EIT chairman Prof Suchatvee Suwansawat.

Mudslides or landslides are possible in areas affected by the quake after heavy rains are forecast for later this week.

Debris and sliding rocks may be stirred up by the tremors and washed away or cause further damage.

People in foothills at risk

People living in foothills or mountain areas close to the epicentre are advised to check out on cracks, and relocate if necessary until rainstorms had eased, he added.

A monitoring of aftershocks is also advised in areas in Chiang Rai, which is the epicentre, Phayao and Lampang, all of which are located near the Phayao fault line.

Suchatvee said there were also other fault lines at risk of future quakes, especially the Phan fault line, where the magnitude could be as strong as 6.6, compared to the original 6.3.

EIT will today dispatch a group of EIT members and experts to visit Chiang Rai and inspect buildings damaged by the quake, while local public and authorities will be lectured on basic instructions on how to stay safe in a quake and make early repairs.

He said the quake was a call to seriously impose quake-safety measures.

A law enforced by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration requires that buildings taller than 30 storeys and built before 2007 must follow quake safety regulations.

EIT has studied and been trying to formulate a regulation that schools, hospitals, or buildings for public use at any height need to have x-shaped structures that could sufficiently support the partially-collapsed buildings to make sure survivors could reach an exit.