More quakes raise panic near Vietnamese dam

TN News

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The central province of Quang Nam, which has been disturbed by tremors caused by the Song Tranh 2 dam, was hit by more earthquakes Monday and Tuesday.

Two earthquakes, the bigger of which registered 2.7 on the Richter scale, occurred early Monday, and three others early on Tuesday.

Nguyen Quoc Viet, who lives near the dam, said he was sleeping when a tremor woke him Monday. 

"The bed shook. I knew it was another earthquake, and I just ran out of the house."

Ho Van Tien, who felt a quake while exercising at 5 p.m., said the tremors lasted around seven seconds. He said it was the biggest of the recent quakes he'd experienced.

Many local residents agreed the late quake Monday was the worst, while scientists later said it occurred as close as five kilometers from the earth's surface.

The quakes added to a series of at least 17 since September 3, including one of a magnitude 4.2, which have panicked local residents.

Scientists said the quakes were "normal" reservoir-induced ones, caused by the increased pressure of the dam's water on the earth's surface as water from the reservoir is absorbed into fault lines in the area, triggering seismic activity.

Geologists sent to the province said the quakes were not dangerous, but local authorities did not believe them.

Many local residents have packed their clothes and blankets and are ready to leave at a moment's notice. Others have built wooden houses, leaving their cracked concrete houses abandoned.

Many parents have also pulled their children out of schools downstream from the dam. 

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Local officials have demanded that the dam's investor, the state-owned monopoly Electricity of Vietnam, not to store any more water at the dam, and compensate affected families, at least with rice.

The Song Tranh 2 hydropower dam, the biggest in the central region, was built at a cost of more than VND4.15 trillion (US$197.53 million). It caused first quakes in November 2010 soon after it was completed, and more in April this year after it developed cracks. The cracks were fixed by the end of August.

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