Earthquakes a new stealth hazard

Construction News

Developers urged to apply engineering
Developers and owners of high-rise or large-scale buildings in Bangkok are being urged to apply earthquake-resistant engineering techniques, as Thailand is not immune to seismic activity.

Pran Siamwalla, president of the Association of Natural Disaster Prevention Industry, said Bangkok in particular is vulnerable to earthquakes, which can happen anytime.

“There are two faults that may affect Bangkok,” he said. “The closest fault is in Kanchanaburi, located 100 kilometres from Bangkok. This western province has a record of strong earthquakes as high as eight in magnitude in the past century.”

According to Mr Pran, Bangkok’s soil is naturally soft, helping to enlarge the shock waves as much as 14 times. This could cause massive damage to Bangkok’s infrastructure, leading high-rise buildings, roads, mass transit and bridges to collapse.

The recent quake that struck Christchurch, New Zealand, offers a good example, as half the buildings collapsed after the city experienced a moderate earthquake of 6 magnitude.

“Earthquakes are unpredictable, but you can prepare for them,” said Mr Pran. “There are 3,000-4,000 earthquakes a year today, which may rise to 10,000 in future.”

Kit Miyamoto, president and CEO of engineering consultant Miyamoto International, said the cost of renovating an existing building to be earthquake-resistant makes up just 3-5% of the total construction cost.

“It’s not only the priceless loss of life, but also economic loss for businesses if an earthquake damages the building and freezes business operations,” said the Los Angeles-based earthquake expert, whose company set up shop in Bangkok last year.

In the capital, the private sector is now alert to the possibility of an earthquake. There are 30 buildings in talks with the consultant to apply earthquake-resistance measures.

Among them are the three buildings at Bank of Ayudhya’s headquarters on Rama III Road, which will have 100 million baht worth of quake-resistant work done.


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