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Quake-hit villagers still in fear

Posted by pakin On May - 16 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Many in north remain in temporary shelters two weeks on

NEARLY two weeks after the 6.3-magnitude earthquake that rocked the country’s north, many people in a hard-hit village in Chiang Rai province remain too frightened to move back to their homes. Several children in the north, who start their new semester today, will have to study in temporary classrooms.

“Locals here are still living in a shelter,” Narong Kijpitak, the head of Ban Pa Lan village, said yesterday.

He said 90 of the 107 houses in Ban Pa Lan sustained damage from a quake that also caused a long crack in the middle of the village. “The crack is more than 100 metres long. Mud gushed out of the crack too, prompting locals to flee en masse.”

Although the mud has stopped bubbling up, most locals continue to live in either provided shelter or in tents.

More than 700 aftershocks have taken place since the quake. The tremors have hit several schools hard. Apichart Jeerawuth, secretary-general of the Office of the Basic Education Commission (Obec), said 61 schools were damaged and engineering teams would take about one more week to inspect all affected schools and determine their safety.

“The hardest hit to date has been Mae Lao Witthayakom School. All three of its buildings will have to be brought down,” he said.

He believes Obec will have to find well over Bt500 million to repair or rebuild quake-hit schools.

“We have some Bt100 million only. So we will need to request Bt400 million more from the central budget,” he said.

Phanphittayakom School director Sanong Sujarit said he was worried about one dangerous building at his institute.

“Engineers have told us that the damaged building is dangerous,” he said.

Although the affected building is cordoned off, he remains worried about the safety of students and teachers. He is not sure when the budget for the demolition of the building will be approved.

Both Mae Lao Witthayakom and Phanphittayakom schools are in Chiang Rai province, which bore the brunt of the quake and aftershocks. Chiang Rai Governor Pongsak Wangsamer said officials continued to survey damaged properties as the aftershocks continued.

A 4.4-magnitude quake was recorded at 12.23am yesterday. Smaller tremors followed hours later.

“At this point, more than 8,000 houses have been damaged by the recent tremors,” he said, adding that the government had transferred Bt184 million to his provincial authority to give financial assistance to victims.

Owners of each damaged house will get no more than Bt33,000 in compensation.

Chiang Rai suffers fresh earthquake

Posted by pakin On May - 14 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Locals rattled again by 5-magnitude shaker

The National Disaster Warning Centre (NDWC) Tuesday confirmed a 5-magnitude earthquake shook Chiang Rai’s Mae Lao district on Monday evening.

Group Captain Somsak Khaosuwan, the NDWC director, said the centre did not make an official announcement after the quake occurred at 6.05pm because it did not significantly impact local residents.

The epicentre of the earthquake was about eight kilometres underground in tambon Dong Mada of Mae Lao district.

”It is not an aftershock of the 6.3-magnitude earthquake that took place [on May 5]. Actually it is another earthquake that happened on the same Phayao fault line,” Grp Capt Somsak said.

He said the centre has kept a close watch on the situation for 24 hours and also told local authorities and residents to remain on full alert.

He said the centre is monitoring several fault lines in the North such as the Phayao and Mae Tha fault lines passing under Lampang and Chiang Mai provinces as there is a high risk of more earthquakes there.

He said the centre is working closely with other agencies to provide information on earthquakes and safety advice for people in earthquake-affected areas.

Meanwhile, the Meteorological Department’s Seismological Bureau reported 759 aftershocks from the May 5 earthquake that rattled Chiang Rai province.

The bureau also reported the Mae Lao district earthquake on Monday resulted in 16 aftershocks measuring about 3.8 in Mae Lao and Mae Suai districts of Chiang Rai. No injuries or damage were reported.

Pongsakorn Chaknil, a village chief of Moo 12 village at tambon Dong Mada in Mae Lao district, said earthquakes and aftershocks that had rocked his village over the past week destroyed more than 150 houses, affecting many residents.

“Dong Mada people are now living in fear. Many of them are still camping out in the open as they are too afraid to stay in their damaged homes,” said Mr Pongsakorn.

He called on provincial authorities to build temporary shelters for these affected residents.

He also wanted the authorities to speed up inspecting damage to buildings in his village so that affected villagers could request repair money from the state.

He said that repairs to damaged structures and other public infrastructure in his village were expected to take several days.

Sanong Sucharit, director of Phan Pittayakom School in Phan district of Chiang Rai, said the Office of the Basic Education Commission (Obec) sent an engineer team to inspect damage to a four-storey building of the school affected by the 6.3-magnitude quake and its aftershocks.

Mr Sanong said Obec is considering whether it will have to be demolished or not. The building was declared off limits for safety reasons.

Strong quake hit north of Thailand

Posted by pakin On May - 5 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

A strong, shallow 6.1-magnitude earthquake shook northern Thailand on Monday afternoon, geologists said, shaking tall buildings in Bangkok hundreds of miles to the south.

The quake, at a shallow depth of 7.4 kilometers (4.5 miles), struck just after 6 pm local time (1100 GMT), around 27 kilometers (17 miles) from the mountainous northern city of Chiang Rai, the US Geological Survey said in a statement.
There were no immediate reports of damage. The area is a remote mountain retreat popular with foreign tourists near to the border with Myanmar and Laos. The quake was felt as far south as Bangkok, 800 kilometers (500 miles) to the south, where tall buildings shook for several seconds. It was also felt in the Myanmar capital of Yangon, an AFP reporter there said. Major earthquakes are rare in Thailand, although tremors frequently strike the northern portion of the country.

(Reuters) – A major earthquake of magnitude 7.5 struck off the coast of the Solomon Islands in the Pacific Ocean on Sunday, triggering a tsunami warning in the area, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.

The quake, initially reported as a magnitude 7.7 was shallow, only 12.4 miles below the seabed, and centered 73 miles south of Kira Kira in the Solomon Islands, which have been racked by a series of strong quakes in recent days.

The Tsunami Warning Center said it was not yet known whether a tsunami had actually been generated but a warning was in effect in the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea.

(Reporting by Sandra Maler; Editing by Doina Chiacu)