Thailand’s Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM), Ministry of Interior is in the process of developing an Action Plan for Earthquake Disaster Prevention and Mitigation for Bangkok with the purpose of establishing a safe and secure urban environment against a potential earthquake.
DDPM engaged several international experts including Panya Consultants Co., Ltd. (PANYA), a Thai Consulting Organization focusing on services in socio-economic, environmental and technological areas and Dr. Pennung Warnitchai, a renowned expert and associate professor at the Structural Engineering field of study at AIT’s School of Engineering and Technology to assist in developing the plan. Dr. Warnitchai is a highly accomplished member of the structural engineering industry, who has helped shape Thai government policy by serving on a number of expert teams for drafting national standards and amending the ministerial regulation. Dr. Warnitchai is also an expert member of the Board of Directors for National Disaster Warning.
Dr. Warnitchai and his team, including engineers engaged through AIT Consulting, will be responsible for conducting a probabilistic seismic hazard assessment (PSHA) and preparing PSHA maps for Bangkok for bedrock site condition; conducting and measuring the shear-wave velocity soil profiles in Bangkok; conducting seismic performance evaluation of buildings in Bangkok; developing and modifying the HAZUS computer code for studying the seismic risk of buildings in Bangkok; and evaluating the effect of an earthquake to Bangkok. The action plan is scheduled for completion by the end of 2013.
Thailand is situated on the Eurasian tectonic plate and is relatively safe from earthquakes since the active faults concentrated in its northern and western regions are incapable of triggering strong earthquakes. This phenomenon still puts Bangkok at possible risks due to the city’s naturally soft soil. History records have shown that even though significant seismic activity may happen thousands of kilometers away, shock waves can enlarge by as much as 14 times and could still be felt in areas with soft soil. The possibility of strong seismic activity could then cause massive damages to Bangkok’s infrastructure and lead to the collapse of high-rise buildings, roads, mass transit and bridges since many structures in Bangkok are not designed to cope with earthquakes due to the lack of proper seismic design standards.