‘No checks’ on building safeguards
No state agencies are checking whether new buildings are earthquake resistant, says the Engineering Institute of Thailand.
State authorities have failed to examine if construction firms use earthquake-resistant construction techniques when they erect buildings, as required by an Interior Ministry regulation, it says.
The EIT yesterday expressed its concerns about a 6.8-magnitude earthquake that hit northern Burma and sent shock waves to buildings in many parts of Thailand on Thursday night.
Amorn Pimanmas, chairman of an EIT subcommittee on engineering infra-structure and earthquakes, said he can’t tell how many buildings comply with the regulation, which is designed to safeguard buildings in the event of a magnitude 7 earthquake, as measured on the Richter scale.
The regulation was issued by the ministry’s Public Works and Town and Country Planning Department.
It says buildings put up after 2007 must have earthquake-resistant engineering and be designed to minimise earthquake impacts.
Mr Amorn said that as far as he knew, authorities checked only general regulations such as a building’s distance from the main road and other basic safety facilities.
“This means that no one knows exactly whether the buildings were equipped with earthquake-resistant systems,” said Mr Amorn.
If buildings collapsed because of the earthquake, engineers overseeing construction would be pressured to take responsibility, he said.
The EIT is confident that buildings which abide by the regulation will be safe.
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration recently revealed that about 2,700 buildings in the capital were at risk of being damaged by an earthquake.
Bangkok is less than 200km from Kanchanaburi, home to the Chedi Sam Ong fault line, and about 800km from Chiang Mai, where the Mae Ta and Mae Chan fault lines are located.
The Chedi Sam Ong, Mae Ta, and Mae Chan are among 13 active fault lines in Thailand covering 22 provinces.
Studies showed there is a high possibility that a powerful earthquake of 6-7 magnitude will occur along the fault lines in Kanchanaburi and Chiang Mai provinces, Pennung Warnitchai, a seismologist from the Asian Institute of Technology, said. The EIT is offering a free consultancy service for building owners who wonder if their buildings were affected by the Burmese earthquake. For inquiries, call 02-319-2708-10 ext 205.