Doi Suthep Pagoda in danger of collapsing
By The Nation

The Doi Suthep Pagoda in Chiang Mai is in urgent need of restoration due to its weakening structure because of increased moisture inside, a senior Department of Fine Arts official said yesterday.

Sahawat Naenna, director of the department's regional office in Chiang Mai, said his agency's archaeologists and civil engineers from Chiang Mai University had conducted a study on the pagoda's structure.

In a "startling discovery", he said the experts had found that the lime cover inside the pagoda had turned into a soft substance similar to synthetic modelling clay.

He said they had found a high level of moisture inside the structure because of rainwater from small leaks and rising groundwater.

Sahawat said his agency had informed the abbot of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, which houses the pagoda, about the urgent need for restoration. Failing that, the structure could subside or even collapse, he said.

He added that the Department of Fine Arts would like to begin restoration at the end of the rainy season.

Sahawat also said the Chiang Mai office of the Department of Fine Arts and the Civil Engineering Department of Chiang Mai University would inform Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat about the urgent need to address the problem when he visited the northern province on Wednesday.