An earthquake packing a savage punch of 6.4 on the Richter scale recently jolted Myanmar and was discernible throughout varied regions of Thailand. This nerve-rattling event resulted in urgent pleas from engineers and scholars for the execution of stringent norms to future-proof construction against such seismological spectacles.
Lit off within Myanmar’s confines, this tumult of tectonic trembles, towering at a magnitude of 6.4, ripped through the tranquil morning at 8.37am. The Earthquake Observation Division of the Meteorological Department pinpointed the epicentre, a mere 100 kilometers northwest of Mae Sai district, snugly nestled in Chiang Rai.
The reputed United States Geological Survey (USGS) approximated the origin of the quake to be slotted 76 kilometres southwest of Kengtung township in Shan State, buried nine kilometres deep within the Earth’s crust. Subsequent to the initial earthquake, three aftershocks rattled the region, stretching the scales at 4.1, 3.5, and 3.4 magnitudes.
The seismic waves rampaged through multiple districts, including Chiang Ra, Chiang Mai, Lamphun, portions of Nan, and various zones in Bangkok, courting attention with their fierce, uncalm presence. The tremors penetrated even the northern expanse of Mae Hong Son and managed to shake Udon Thani and Khon Kaen in the Northeast.
At the helm of the Thailand Structural Engineers Association (TSEA), Amorn Pimanmas offered reassurances about the earthquake’s threat level, categorically stating that it lacked the power to dismantle Northern buildings. The victims were mainly buildings of lower and medium stature. Structures in Bangkok, conveniently a thousand kilometers away from the epicentre, danced to the tremors’ tunes. Nevertheless, the considerable spatial gulf would have diluted any structural harm.
Invoking the 2021 ministerial regulation, Amorn spotlighted the legislative mandate stipulating earthquake-resistant construction in 43 provinces scattered across North and Bangkok.
While assuring residents against alarm, Amorn didn’t underplay the necessity for preparedness for stronger or closer earthquakes. Highlighting the imperative to reinforce buildings against quakes, he advised applying the crux of earthquake-resistant construction to new and existing structures alike.
Former president of the Council of Engineers, Suchatwee Suwansawat, aired his apprehensions about Bangkok, with its skyline dotted by at least 10,000 high-rise structures. He conferred approval on the 2021 regulation, yet urged City Hall to undertake in-depth checks of older structures birthed before the regulatory implementation, besides nudging owners to enhance their foundations, stated the Bangkok Post.
The Chief of Chiang Mai’s disaster prevention and mitigation office, Arun Pinta, noted that the tremor was perceived for a scant five seconds by denizens ensconced in tall structures and the Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital’s occupants. The quake was ascribed to the Kengtung fault’s shift in Myanmar’s Shan State by the head of the Earthquake Observation Division, Prasan Sangwandet. Labelling Myanmar a potent earthquake brewing zone tumultuous with myriad fault lines, Sangwandet hinted at a probable future haunted by constant aftershocks for one or two months post the original quake.