23 February 2005

Tsunami moved Bangkok 9cm

Bangkok has shifted 9cm because of the December 26 earthquake that measured 9.0 on the Richter scale and sent devastating tsunamis across the Indian Ocean, local newspapers reported on Wednesday.

The tourist island of Phuket also moved 32cm since the quake, said the Chulalongkorn University researchers, who used Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites to measures the shifts during a January 20-24 survey.

"We found that around one month after the earthquake, Bangkok had moved horizontally southwestwards by about 9cm, and Phuket moved horizontally by about 32cm southwestwards as well," researcher Itthi Trisirisattayawong told the Bangkok Post.

"We don't want people to panic. We insist that it is common for land to move by one centimetre a year," Itthi said.

The movements were not expected to affect people's daily lives, he said, but technicians would have to draft new technical maps with the changes geographical positions.

But he told the paper that researchers in Malaysia had found that country has been moving westwards by one centimeter every week since the quake, and that a similar phenomenon was probably happening in southern Thailand.

Itthi's survey engineering department at Chulalongkorn is collecting data from six other locations in Thailand to get a better picture of how the nation's geography has changed, the Nation newspaper reported.

The quake was one of the most powerful on record, and unleashed deadly waves that killed 289 000 people.

The tsunamis killed 5 395 people in southern Thailand, roughly half of them believed to be foreign tourists. Some 3 000 people are still listed as missing.


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