Wat Rong Khun heavily damaged

Wat Rong Khun or the White Temple was heavily damaged by the 6.3 magnitude earthquake that struck Phan district of Chiang Rai province Monday night.

Ajarn Chalermchai Kositpipat, architect and owner of the White Temple, admitted Monday night that it was not immediately known whether the foundation structure of the temple was damaged or not but he has ordered all workers and staff  to abandon the temple and stay outside for safety reason.

But he said all the roof bricks of the temple fell to the ground and mural painting images  were all damaged when ceilings and walls collapsed.

He said the temple was designed and constructed to withstand quake saying if it was not, it would have collapsed entirely now.

He said it was the strongest quake since the temple was first built 20 years ago.

He still could not assess the damage  until Tuesday morning but said if it was unsafe he has to bring it down for safety reason.
He said the temple was built at the cost of about two billion baht and it would be a great loss if it was to be destroyed.

He said he did not know if he could rebuild the temple as it took him 20 years to build it.

Meanwhile highway officials said the quake caused the highway from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai to sink two meters deep on over a hundred stretch. The highway is still open to traffic but only one lane is passable.

Authorities said the 6.3 quake hit Phan district at 6.08 p.m. with epi-center 10 kilometers deep in the ground.