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Asean Affairs    21  September  2011

Is your city on the earthquake list?

By  David Swartzemtruber

AseanAffairs     21  September 2011

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Following a recent visit to Bangkok by H. Kit Miyamoto of Miyamoto International, internationally recognized for making buildings more resistant to earthquakes, there has been an upsurge in interest in Bangkok’s susceptibility to earthquakes.

Amon Phiman of the Engineering Institute of Thailand has called for bridges and expressways to be examined for structural soundness because there are no clear standards for earthquake resistance he notes. Earlier this year a 6.7 magnitude earthquake in Myanmar rattled some buildings in Bangkok.

Mr. Amon warned that there have been 30 such earthquakes in the last 30 years in the region.

I became curious about how Bangkok ranked compared to other cities on its susceptibility to earthquake damage. I tracked down a list compiled in January by Geohazards International ranking the likely death toll from a quake of 6.0 magnitude or higher hitting cities in Asia and the Americas.

Here’s the list from worst to least:

1. Kathmandu, Nepal

2. Istanbul, Turkey

3. Delhi, India

4. Quito, Ecuador

5. Manila, Philippines

6. Islamabad, Pakistan

7. Izmir, Turkey

8. Mexico City, Mexico

9. San Salvador, El Salvador

10. Jakarta, Indonesia

11. Tokyo, Japan

12. Mumbai, India

13. Guyaquil, Ecuador

14. Bandung, Indonesia

15. Santiago, Chile

16. Tashkent, Uzbekistan

17. Tijuana, Mexico

18. Nagoya, Japan

19. Antofagosta,Chile

20. Kobe, Japan

Although Bangkok did not make the list, two other Asean capitals, Manila and Jakarta, did.

However, that does not mean that Bangkok is without worry. The city is built on soft clay deposited for centuries by the Chao Phraya River and this substrata is quite susceptible to tremors.

Seismic expert Penneung Vanichchai and his tem from the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok is studying possible impacts of earthquakes on Bangkok.

A study has already been completed on Thailand’s “second city,” Chiang Mai. An earthquake of 5.7 magnitude 7 kilometers from the northern province it is estimated, could take 8,000 lives and the province could be paralyzed for two to three years with damages running up to US$5 billion.



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AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
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