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Expert in earthquake-proof building design helps ease Phuket fears

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Expert in earthquake-proof building design helps ease Phuket fears | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: One of Thailand’s leading experts in earthquake-proof building design has offered to conduct computer simulation tests to ensure that major buildings in Phuket do not succumb to the recurring tremors the island has been experiencing since April 16.

The news was delivered directly to Phuket Governor Tri Augkaradacha by Assoc Prof Dr Paiboon Panyakapo, who heads the Engineering Institute of Thailand’s earthquake and wind load impact study unit based at the Sripatum University Faculty of Engineering in Bangkok.

Dr Paiboon invited Governor Tri to provide the architectural plans of important buildings in Phuket so his team could input the data into a specially created computer program that simulates the stress on structures brought on by earthquakes and strong winds.

The computer program could then calculate how strong an earthquake the buildings could survive.

Based on this data his team could also make recommendations on how to strengthen the buildings to make them more resistant to earthquake tremors.

“After the [4.3 Richter] earthquake in Phuket on April 16, people feel insecure about the buildings and other major structures in the province,” Dr Paiboon told Governor Tri Augkaradacha and other high-ranking local officials at a meeting at Provincial Hall.

“To reassure them, I would like to explain that when an earthquake happens, underground energy is released, and [now that the April 16 earthquake has happened] it will take a long time for enough underground energy to amass to cause another earthquake in Phuket,” he said.

Dr Paiboon said it would help calm fears of tremor-induced building collapse if local residents were aware of this, and it would be prudent for at least some precautions to be taken.

“Although earthquakes will not happen here often, people in the province should prepare for the unexpected. For example, they should be trained in what to do during an earthquake,” he advised.

THE KLONG MARUI FAULT

Dr Paiboon explained that the movement of the Klong Marui Fault, which runs north-south underwater off the east coast of Phuket, was the slowest he has ever seen. It was the submarine movement of the Klong Marui Fault that was identified as the cause of the April 16 quake in Phuket.

“The Klong Marui Fault moves about 0.1 millimeters per year. In comparison, other faults in the north of Thailand, about 13 in total, move about 3-4mm per year, and the faults around Indonesia move about 65mm per year,” Dr Paiboon said.

“We cannot exactly tell when an earthquake will happen, but we can reasonably presume that this fault [the Klong Marui Fault] will not cause frequent earthquakes. We can also reasonably presume that a severe earthquake will not happen in Phuket again anytime soon,” he added.

Dr Paiboon also explained that, according to the strong motion accelerograph [seismograph] data his office had received, the Klong Marui Fault is capable of causing earthquakes of strengths no more than 5 to 6 on the Richter scale.

“Earthquakes of this magnitude are considered ‘middle-strength earthquakes’ and these types of earthquakes have a greater effect on multi-storey buildings than single-storey structures,” he said.

BUILDING CODE REQUIREMENTS

Looking at the Building Code requirements governing all major structures in Phuket, Dr Paiboon explained that the whole island of Phuket was declared as within an “earthquake warning zone” in 2007.

“The 6.8 Richter earthquake in Burma in 2007 and its aftershocks rattled Bangkok, prompting the government to draft the Ministerial Regulation BE 2550. Phuket was named in those regulations as within an ‘earthquake warning zone’,” he said.

Under the regulations, all public buildings with a capacity of 300 people or more, such as shopping malls, schools, hotels and indoor markets, and all buildings taller than 15 meters erected before the regulations came into effect in 2008 are be strengthened to protect against earthquake damage, he explained.

“Building owners and developers are required to strengthen the entire structure by using stronger materials or by reinforcing weak parts of the building,” Dr Paiboon said.

“Small buildings such as homes and small guesthouses and rental apartment buildings can be strengthened simply by reinforcing the brick walls,” he added.

ON THE GROUND

Dr Paiboon concluded his Phuket visit by inspecting houses in Baan Bang Kham, in Srisoonthorn subdistrict, that were damaged by the April 16 earthquake. Baan Bang Kham was identified as the epicenter of that quake.

“I want to see how severe the damage to the houses is so I can suggest how to improve the building structure,” Dr Paiboon explained during his inspection of the damaged homes.

“From what I have seen, most of the damaged houses suffered cracks in the wall and the beams. All I can suggest to the homeowners is to rebuild their houses but this time using stronger steel beams to make sure the structure is strong enough in case another earthquake happens in the future,” Dr Paiboon said.

— Orawin Narabal

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Thailand

Thai Airways to resume flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Phuket

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai Airways to resume flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Phuket | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai Airways

After nearly 9 months on the ground due to the coronavirus pandemic, along with problems balancing their accounts, Thai Airways will resume flights between Bangkok and Chiang Mai as well as Bangkok and Phuket later this month. The flights will start back up on Christmas day.

Flights from Bangkok to the 2 key tourist provinces have been grounded since April 1. Starting December 25, the airline will run 3 flights a week on both routes. A source told the Bangkok Post that the new schedules will run until at least February 28.

Thai Lion Air, Thai Air Asia, Nok Air, Thai Smile, VietJet Air and Bangkok Airways have returned to the domestic skies since July and slowly adding frequency to their routes.

In addition to resuming the domestic flights, the Thai Airways is relaunching some international flights from January 1 to March 27 including weekly flights to Frankfurt, London, Copenhagen, Sydney, Seoul, Manila, Taipei and Osaka. Flights from Bangkok to Tokyo will be available 3 times a week and flights from Bangkok to Hong Kong will be available every day.

Thai Airways has been tackling bankruptcy throughout the lockdown and trying to make up for more than 300 billion baht in losses. Since many flights were suspended due to travel restrictions, Thai Airways has tried to make money by business ventures on the ground, like a pop-up restaurant serving in-flight meals and selling off unwanted equipment from their warehouse. There also disposing of much of their older fleet, including all of their Boring 747-400s.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

97 police officers investigated for fiddling Covid-19 payments

Maya Taylor

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97 police officers investigated for fiddling Covid-19 payments | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.newsbeezer.com

97 police officers, from 41 police stations, are currently being investigated for an alleged scam involving Covid-19 payments meant for officers who worked extra shifts during the crisis. The case was assigned by national police chief Suwat Jangyodsuk in November, when it came to light that some officers may have fraudulently claimed allowances meant for others.

In one incident, an officer responsible for transferring extra payments to police on the southern island of Phuket transferred the money to his own accountant instead. At the time, the transfer was dismissed as a mistake (in his favour), with the officer in question receiving a warning, and payments then made to the qualifying officers.

Wissanu Prasatthong-Osot from the National Internal Affairs Police says the investigation should reach a conclusion within the next 10 days.

“The result of the investigation should be ready in 10 days. Currently, 97 officers in 41 police stations ranging from non-commissioned to generals are under investigation for being involved in the swindle. The bureau aims to provide justice to all policemen involved. After the investigation concludes, the victims will receive their full allowance, while the offending officers will be punished under the law and disciplinary standards.”

Nation Thailand reports that a full list of alleged offenders has been sent to Suwat, with Wissanu promising that none will escape prosecution.

“The National Police chief had also ordered the transfer of offending officers at the commander and sub-commander levels out of their areas as per the investigation procedures.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Tourism

Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce to propose Guangzhou-Phuket tourism route

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce to propose Guangzhou-Phuket tourism route | The Thaiger
PHOTO: 77 kaoded

A tourism route from Guangzhou, China to Phuket could help the island province recover from the recession brought on by the pandemic and lack of foreign travel, according to the Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce. The president of the organisation, Narongsak Puttapornmongkol, says they plan to submit a letter proposing the route under a travel bubble scheme to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

The Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce is proposing a travel bubble with around 20 cities in China with no recent coronavirus infections and considered to be at a low risk of spreading the virus. Travellers from Guangzhou recently entered Thailand on the new Special Tourist Visa. It was the second flight of international tourists since travel restrictions were imposed in late-March.

“We believe that the Travel Bubble and the quarantine reduction will resolve the tourism business, which is a huge economic opportunity to recover.”

Once a vaccine is widely available, Narongsak suggests that those who wish to Thailand could also present their vaccination certificate or examination reports from the place of origin. He adds that the mandatory state quarantine period is likely to be reduced.

SOURCE: Pattaya News

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