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Engineer identifies five reasons the roof failed in fatal Pichit school incident

PHOTO: Facebook/แม่หญิงละเวงวรรณฬา บัวบูชามหารัตนปฏิมากร

A prominent engineer has outlined what he believes are the 5 risk factors contributing to the collapse of a school roof in northern Thailand earlier this week. Seven students were killed in the incident on Monday evening, May 22, and another 18 people injured, including staff and parents.

Thai PBS World reports that the victims were sheltering from a storm in a building at Wat Noen Por School in the district of Sam Ngam, in Phichit province, when torrential rain and strong winds caused the roof to cave in.

Professor Dr. Amorn Pimanmas, president of Thailand’s Structural Engineers Association, has identified 5 factors that could have contributed to the collapse.

However, the professor points out that these are just his initial theories and there may have been other factors involved, which will be confirmed by a full site inspection and investigation:

1. Summer storms are generally 2 – 3 times stronger than normal wind and capable of toppling a building.

2. Physical structures such as roofs and billboards have plenty of surface area for strong winds to push against and any roof that covers a wide area is at greater risk of collapse.

3. Structural design does not factor in the risk posed by summer storms.

4. Sub-standard construction or design, such as that seen in the collapse of the roof’s supporting concrete pillars, will mean the end product cannot provide adequate support during a storm.

5. The materials used in the construction may not have been of an adequate standard, as was the case with the concrete pillars.

Professor Amorn says summer storms should not be under-estimated, given that they are a natural, re-occurring threat. The engineer points out that there are many other buildings that are also at risk, particularly those that are of the same design and standards as the school building that just collapsed.

He adds that if people need to seek shelter during big storms, they should make sure they choose a solidly-constructed building.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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