Earthquake warning devices to be installed at key sites around Thailand

CHIANG RAI - Devices capable of giving an early warning for earthquakes, fires and floods will be installed at major historic sites across the country within the next two years, Fine Arts Department director general Anek Sihamat said yesterday. Anek also said provincial FAD offices were working with local administrative bodies and the National Office of Buddhism to work out a national plan to minimise earthquake damage to historic sites and facilitate easier post-quake repairs.

The Office of Buddhism and administrative bodies should give money to the scheme and provide equipment and assistance for repairs, he said.

Anek said FAD inspections had found that in most cases stupa tops had broken off or tilted but would not need major costly repairs.

The most damage was found at Wat Dong Mada, in Chiang Rai's Mae Lao district - the quake's epicentre, where the head of the main 100-year-old Buddha broke off.

The top of two stupas in Chiang Saen, Chiang Rai, also broke off.

Chiang Rai Governor Pongsak Wangsamer said that an inspection of damage was conducted at Mae Suay dam - it had found cracks but they were not of concern.

He said the dam could withstand a 7.0-magntude quake, and that evacuations were ready to be conducted if the dam broke.