August 19, 2014 01:00
By Anan Wichitpracha,
Other buildings may be at similar risk, as builders go for quick, cheap options
THE ENGINEERING Institute of Thailand (EIT) believes that misuse of flat slabs, which help cut construction costs and speed up building, may be partly to blame for the fatal collapse of a condo bloc in Pathum Thani last week.
Similar problems may threaten other buildings across the country too, EIT vice president Amorn Pimanmas warned yesterday.
“Flat slabs are becoming very popular, but the use of such materials needs very careful design and strict supervision of construction,” he said.
By law, any building that goes above a height of 23 metres needs to first undergo an environmental impact assessment. Several developers have started using flat slabs because they can add stories to the structure without significantly boosting the height.
The Council of Engineers has now set up a committee to look into the case and the building’s engineers. If the engineers are found guilty, they may lose their licences and face criminal litigation.
The fatal collapse took place at the construction site of the U Condo project in Klong Luang district on August 11. Fourteen victims were killed and more than 20 others hurt.
Plook Plang Co Ltd, which is owned by Chanaichon Kerdthes, was in charge of the condo construction.
Chanaichon is still on the run, with only his widely known father coming forward to offer initial financial help to victims. Chanaichon’s father Chalor is former top-ranking police officer, who spent nearly 20 years behind bars for murders related to jewellery stolen from Saudi Arabia.
“I can’t contact my son for the time being. I don’t know where he is,” Chalor said yesterday, as he met Pathum Thani Governor Pongsatorn Sajjacholapund to discuss initial financial help for the victims and their families. He was accompanied by Chalermchai Laisakun, the lawyer for Plook Plang.
“We will try to arrange his surrender before the end of this week,” Chalermchai said.
Chalor and Chalermchai handed over Bt205,000 in financial help to the victims via Pongsatorn.
The family of each person killed will get Bt10,000, while survivors with serious injuries will get Bt7,000 each, while those with minor injuries will receive Bt2,000 each.
The superintendent of Klong Ha Police Station, Colonel Ratchapol Chanasrikajorn, said a background check had found that Chanaichon was also wanted in two other cases related to cheques.
Ratchapol was assigned by Pathum Thani police chief Maj General Smith Mukdasanit to set up as many as 10 teams to speed up investigation into the building collapse.
The other suspect on the run is an 18-year-old woman who is linked to the condo project’s owner both through a legal entity and relationships.