Quakes Become Matter For Local Concern

Earthquakes have become a concern of Lao people with the Ministry of Public Works and Transport drafting a new building code for construction projects to ensure they meet required safety standards.

The ministry’s office head Dr Santisouk Simmalavong told Vientiane Times on Friday that the ministry was dealing with the draft code, aiming to control various construction projects, especially the taller buildings which have become the focus of many property developers.

According to an official from the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology, Mr Vandy Duangmala, the three seismic monitoring stations in Vientiane, Luang Prabang, and Borikhamxay provinces found 30 to 40 earthquakes with their epicentres within the country were recorded each year but they were very low on the Richter scale so were rarely felt.

The 6.3 magnitude quake that struck northern Thailand early last month and killed one person while injuring several others there, however, created fear amongst the local people living along the Lao border with Thailand despite there having been no serious damage.

Big projects such as long bridges, hydropower dams and airports which were built some time ago, are also of public concern.

To address this concern, the ministry’s office head said, despite the related code not being in place at the time, the government has instructed the developers to ensure these properties are able to withstand an earthquake registering seven on the Richter scale as a minimum.

More than 100 aftershocks have been detected following the recent earthquake in the Thai province which shares a border with Bokeo province in Laos, with the largest being of a 5.2 magnitude which was felt in Mae Suai district.

Earthquakes in the area between northern Thailand and Myanmar were often reported before but in more recent times the epicentres appear to be coming closer to Laos and strong seismic shakes have been recorded in the north.

According to Thai media, a number of fault lines were found in Chiang Rai and other northern Thai provinces, including Phayao and Nan which share a border with Xayaboury province in Laos.

The Department of Meteorology and Hydrology official said despite there being no fault lines and strong quakes had not been felt there, seismographs were also planned to be installed in southern provinces.

From Vientiane Times observation, it is not only big buildings that are the cause of public concern regarding earthquakes, but the smaller apartment buildings built some time ago using cheaper and possibly substandard concrete and other materials which are in amongst people’s homes are thought to create a significant earthquake risk.

Source: Vientiane Times

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