Thailand's 15th faultline discovered in Nakhon Nayok

A new faultline, caused by a previous earthquake, was found in Nakhon Nayok province and could be considered the country's 15th active faultline, a seminar of geological professionals and related agencies was told yesterday. Songpop Polchan, president of the Geological Society of Thailand, said they were planning to propose that the earthquake map be reviewed to cover tambonlevel risk areas so people can be better prepared and can build structures that are better able to cope with tremors.

The proposal, along with a fivepoint recommendation, will be submitted to the government in two weeks, he said.

As seen from natural disasters over the past four months, including the 4Ritcher quake in Phuket where 400 homes were affected, people start panicking because Thailand still lacks a proper disasterwarning system and the public lacked sufficient knowledge, he said. Hence, the experts decided that PM Yingluck Shinawatra and related agencies are given a fivepoint guideline to mitigate earthquake impacts.

Firstly, the Mineral Resources Department's (MRD) map of risky zones based on the 14 faultlines going through 22 provinces only provided provinciallevel data, not information about how much risk villages or tambons were facing. Hence studies should be conducted to clarify this issue so proper criteria can be set for constructing buildings and installing a disasterwarning device.

Secondly, companies conducting Environmental Impact Assessment studies for the government's antiseismic infrastructure should include a certified geologist.

Thirdly, though the Interior Ministry's regulation for new buildings in risky provinces required that they be strong enough to withstand earthquakes, most old buildings were not built to survive seismic activity, hence the government should provide funding to strengthen hospitals, schools and health centres.

Fourthly, the MRD should educate communities and local administration bodies, as well as provide them with earthquaketackling guidelines. Lastly, the Education Ministry should include an earthquake drill and basic information in primary and secondary school curricula, he added.

Geologist Lerdsin Raksasakulwong said the MRD had been studying the Nakhon Nayok faultline, which meets with the Mae Ping faultline at Nakhon Nayok's Ban Na and Ongkharak districts as well as at Sa Kaew province.

This faultline could cause some serious damage in case of a major earthquake because it lies near Ayuttahya, Saraburi, Uthai Thani, Lop Buri and Bangkok, he said. He added that geologists had also found some torn layers of sediment indicating a previous movement hence samples were being collected to determine when that quake occurred so future tremors can be predicted.

Lerdsin went on to say that the MRD had made a list of atrisk villages and installed tremordetecting devices along active faultlines, though residents still had to be properly educated.

"Most deaths during earthquakes result from buildings collapsing onto people," he said.

He explained that since most houses were halfwood, halfconcrete structures with nonflexible concrete beams and ceilings, people living in atrisk areas needed to adjust their houses and use flexible materials such as bamboo. He said people living along the Mae Chan and Mae Ing faultlines in the North and those living along the Khlong Marui and Ranong faultlines in the South should be the first group to be informed.

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