Big earthquake shakes Thailand's North (updated Wednesday)

Big earthquake shakes Thailand's North (updated Wednesday)

Monday's earthquake in the North measured 6.3 on the Richter scale and aftershocks, more than 180 so far, are continuing, prompting worries of future quakes. There are five active fault lines in the North.

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The all-white Wat Rong Khun, one of the top tourist destinations in Chiang Rai's Muang district, was badly damaged by the 6.3-magnitude earthquake that rattled the northern region on Monday. PATTARAPONG CHATPATTARASILL

Wednesday morning update

Aftershocks have continued in the North, more than 180 so far. The 6.3 earthquake that hit Chiang Rai Monday evening is one of the biggest ever recorded in the Kingdom and there are concerns that more could follow.

Quake sparks concern over five fault lines

Next large jolt could unsettle danger spots

The Department of Mineral Resources is closely monitoring five geological fault lines in the North after a 6.3-magnitude quake struck the region on Monday evening.

Worasart Apaipong, the department’s deputy chief, told a press briefing Tuesday there is a high possibility the next earthquake would take place at one of the active fault lines.

They are Mae Chan fault line in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai provinces; Mae Ing fault line in Chiang Rai province up to Laos; Pua fault line in Nan province; Mae Tha fault line in Chiang Mai province; and Thoen fault line in Phrae and Lampang provinces.

He said the epicentre of the earthquake, which struck at 6.08pm, was located on the upper part of the Phayao fault line, seven kilometres underground in Chiang Rai's Phan district.

The 70 kilometre-long fault line is surrounded by the other five fault lines.

"In theory, we believe that a big tremor at one fault line could affect the other fault lines nearby. We have all five fault lines under close observation during this period," he said.

According to the department, it detected a quake, registering 5.1 on the Richter-scale, in the lower part of the Phayao fault line on Sept 11, 1994. The quake had a strong impact on Phan Hospital.

The quake on Monday was the second to hit the Phayao fault line in two decades.

Mr Worasart said the department is also paying attention to landslide-prone areas during the rainy season, especially in the west of Chiang Rai.

An earthquake can cause rapid soil erosion, which can result in landslides.

The department has provided training for monitoring landslides and earthquakes to its networks, hoping that in the event of an emergency, a speedy evacuation will limit causalities, he said.

In case of a landslide, people living on a hill will be evacuated if the level of rainfall exceeds 150 millimetres per day, he said.

Preecha Saithong, the department’s geologist, said the 6.3-Richter-scale earthquake is considered to be one of the biggest recorded earthquakes that has taken place in the country.

Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lamphun,  Phayao, Lampang, Phrae and Nan are the main provinces that stand to be most adversely affected by an earthquake on the five active fault lines in the North, he added.

"Monday's earthquake was not beyond our expectation. In our study, we found that a 6.5-magnitude quake had taken place close to the Thai-Laos border adjacent to Nan province in 1935."

"But we are certain that such a big quake will not happen again along the Phayao fault line for a long period of time,” he said.

For an earthquake to happen again along the same fault line, it will need more time to accumulate shaking power.

On the Pua fault line in Nan province, there has been no record of a major quake since 1935.

The only quakes registering between 3 and 6.3 on the Richter scale that have taken place over the past two decades in Thailand happened along the other four active fault lines.

Note: an updated audio file follows the full text.

Tuesday stories

20:50 update

Highway 118 between Chiang Rai's Mae Lao and Mae Sruay districts is clearly in need of major repairs. PATTARAPONG CHATPATTARASILL

Here is more information on the damage caused by yesterday's quake and the more than 100 aftershocks from our online team.

Seven districts of Chiang Rai were declared disaster-stricken areas on Tuesday to facilitate quick assistance for people affected by the earthquake.

They are Phan, Mae Lao, Mae Suai, Wiang Chai, Muang Chiang Rai, Pa Daet and Phaya Mengrai districts.

More than 3,500 houses, 10 temples, three schools, three hospitals, a hotel and a road were damaged there.

The Fine Arts Department also reported 11 relics and 24 temples in Chaing Rai, Chiang Mai, Lamphun, Nan, Phayao were damaged.

10:35 update

A woman looks at a partly damaged house following the earthquake. (AP photo)

Here is more information from our online team:

As of early Tuesday, the magnitudes of the more than 100 aftershocks ranged from slightly below 3.0 to 5.2 on the Richter scale, according to the National Disaster Warning Centre.

The quake and its aftershocks killed one person in Chiang Rai’s Mae Lao district and injured 20.

The centre posted on its website at 7am that the quake's epicentre was  in tambon Saikhao in Phan district, seven kilometres underground. There had been at least 109 aftershocks.

It said more than 50 aftershocks were below 3.0 on the Richter scale, 41 were between 3.0 and 3.9, 13 were between 4.0 and 4.9 and five were in the range of 5.0 and 5.2.

The largest aftershock, of 5.2 in magnitude, was felt in Mae Sruay district at 6.04am while the second largest, at 5.1 occured at 4.17am.

Thanarat Phummakasikorn, director of Srinagarind Dam in Kanchaburi, said the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand had already inspected the two dams in the province — the Srinagarind Dam in Sri Sawat district and the Vajiralongkorn Dam in Thong Phaphum district.

The two dams had not been affected by the temblor.


Damage to Chiang Rai's famous Wat Rong Khun is most noticable on the inside with many supporting structures suffering severe cracks.

Chiang Rai's famous Wat Rong Khun, also known as the White Temple, has been severely damaged. National Artist Chalermchai Kositpipat who designed and constructed the temple, beginning in 1997, said structural damage was substantial and some buildings might have to be demolished. The temple has been closed to visitors indefinitely.

A severely damaged Buddha image at Wat Udom Wari in Chiang Rai's Phan district.

Big earthquake shakes Thailand's North

The earthquake caused severe damage to several roads.

Information on the earthquake in the North continues to come in. The main shock occurred at 6:08 pm and it was recorded at 6.3 on the Richter scale, said to be the biggest, or one of the biggest, ever recorded in Thailand. The epicentre was in Phan district of Chiang Rai province and it's depth was only 7 kilometres, quite shallow for an earthquake, causing worry that there would be substantial damage. As of 8:30am this morning, the death toll stands at one, an 83-year woman killed by a falling wall, with 20 injuries.

Many northern residents spent a sleepless night, some of them outside their homes, as aftershocks continued throughout the night. By 4:30am, the count was over 90 with four of them above 5.0 on the Richter scale. (8:30 update: There have now been over 100 aftershocks. Chiang Mai residents are reporting frequent tremors through the social media)

Substantial damage was reported to roads and temples and some hospitals were forced to close. The worst-hit area was in Phan and Mae Lao districts of Chiang Rai near the epicentre. The force of the quake was felt in high buildings in Bangkok.

Learn from listening

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  • accumulate: to get more and more of something over a period of time - เก็บสะสม, สะสม, สั่งสมมานาน
  • adjacent: very near, next to, or touching - ติดกัน
  • briefing: a meeting in which people receive information or instruction - คำแถลงการณ์สั้น,สรุปแบบสั้นๆ
  • casualty (noun): victim; someone/ something that has been harmed, injured or killed as the result of a bad event such as a disaster or crime (casualties: the number of dead or injured) - เหยื่อผู้เคราะห์ร้าย; จำนวนคนตายหรือได้รับบาดเจ็บ
  • concern: a worry - ความกังวล
  • construct: to build or make something, especially buildings, bridges, etc. - สร้าง
  • crack: a line on a surface where something is beginning to break apart - รอยแตก  รอยร้าว
  • dam: a wall built across a river to stop the water from flowing, especially in order to create a lake or to help to produce electric power - เขื่อน
  • death toll: the number of people killed - ยอดผู้เสียชีวิต
  • decades: periods of ten years - เป็นสิบๆปี
  • demolish: to completely destroy a building, especially in order to use the land for something else - รื้อ (สิ่งก่อสร้าง), ทำลาย
  • depth: the distance down either from the top of something to the bottom, or to a distance below the top surface of something - ความลึก
  • deputy: a person whose rank is immediately below that of the leader of an organisation - รอง
  • destination: the place where someone or something is going - จุดหมายปลายทาง
  • detected: noticed, discovered or found out - จับได้ พบได้
  • disaster: an unexpected event, such as a very bad accident, a flood or a fire, that kills a lot of people or causes a lot of damage - ความหายนะ ความล่มจม ความโชคร้าย
  • earthquake: a sudden shaking movement of the ground - แผ่นดินไหว
  • emergency: an unexpected situation involving danger in which immediate action is necessary - เหตุฉุกเฉิน
  • epicentre (noun): the point on the earth's surface where the effects of an earthquake are felt most strongly; the central point of something - ศูนย์กลาง
  • erosion: gradually destroying the surface of something through the action of wind, rain, etc; to be gradually destroyed in this way - การกัดกร่อน,การเซาะ
  • evacuation: moving people from a place of danger to a safer place - การอพยพ
  • expectation (noun): what is expected - ที่คาดไว้
  • facilitate: to make it possible or easier for something to happen - ทำให้สะดวกขึ้น
  • fault line: a fault (= break in the Earth's surface) - รอยเลื่อนของเปลือกโลก
  • geologist: a scientist who studies the earth, including the origin and history of the rocks and soil of which the earth is made - นักธรณีวิทยา
  • impact (noun): an effect or influence - ผลกระทบ
  • in the event of: if this happens -
  • indefinitely: for a period of time with no fixed end - ไม่มีข้อกำหนด
  • injury (noun): physical damage done to a person or a part of their body - อาการบาดเจ็บ
  • inspect: to look at something carefully - ตรวจสอบ, ตรวจสอบอย่างละเอียด
  • jolt (noun): a sudden rough movement - การกระตุก, การกระแทก, การเขย่า
  • landslide: a mass of rock and earth moving suddenly and quickly down a steep slope - แผ่นดินถล่ม
  • limit: to stop something from increasing beyond a particular amount or level - จำกัด
  • magnitude: size or strength - ขนาดหรือ ความรุนแรง
  • mineral: a valuable or useful chemical substance which is formed naturally in the ground - แร่
  • monitor: keep track of - ตรวจ, ติดตาม, เฝ้าสังเกต
  • network: a large system of connected parts, organisations, people, etc. - เครือข่าย
  • observation: the process of watching someone or something carefully, in order to find something out - การสังเกต
  • prone (verb): to likely to experience a particular problem more often than is usual - ที่มีแนวโน้ม
  • range: to have an upper and a lower limit in amount, number, etc - ผันแปรภายในขอบเขตหนึ่ง
  • rapid: happening quickly - อย่างรวดเร็ว
  • rattle: to make short, knocking sounds from being shaken or hit - ส่งเสียงรัว
  • relics: the bones of someone who has been cremated - อัฐิ
  • resident: a person who lives in a particular area - ผู้ที่อาศัยในท้องที่
  • resource: a supply of something that a country, an organization or a person has and can use - ทรัพยากร
  • Richter scale: a scale for measuring the magnitude (size and strength) of earthquakes - หน่วยวัดความรุนแรงของแผ่นดินไหว
  • severely: very seriously - อย่างรุนแรง
  • shallow: not deep - ตื้น
  • slightly: small in size or amount - เล็กน้อย
  • social media: the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into an interactive dialogue, e.g., Facebook, Twitter, etc. - เครือข่ายสังคมออนไลน์
  • soil: the substance on the surface of the Earth in which plants grow - ดิน
  • spot: the particular place where someone or something is - ที่, สถานที่
  • stricken: affected by serious problems such as injury or illness - ได้รับผลกระทบจากปัญหาหนักหน่วง
  • structural (adjective): having to do with structures such as buildings, bridges and roads - เกี่ยวกับโครงสร้าง
  • substantial: large in size, value or importance - มากมาย, ยิ่งใหญ่, สำคัญ
  • surrounded: having something,people, etc. completely around all sides - ถูกล้อมรอบ
  • temblor (noun): an earthquake (= a sudden, violent shaking of the earth's surface) - แผ่นดินไหว
  • theory: one or more ideas that explain how or why something happens - สมมติฐาน
  • tremor: a shaking of the earth; an earthquake - การสั่นสะเทือน
  • unsettle (verb): to make someone/something unstable; to make someone feel nervous, confused, or upset - ทำให้ไม่มั่นคง, ทำให้รู้สึกไม่มั่นค, ทำให้ไม่สบายใจจากการเปลี่ยนแปลง
  • warning: an action or statement telling someone of a possible problem or danger - การเตือน

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