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2012
Historical sites in Ayutthaya equipped to tackle flood

13 September 2012 - Culture Minister Sukumol Kunplome has visited Ayutthaya province to monitor the water situation and the renovation of the
historical sites submerged during the floods crisis in 2011. Ms. Sukumol on Thursday traveled to several temples in the central province of Ayutthaya
including
Wat Mahathat, Wat Ayuthaya, Wat Kuteedao, and Wat Chai Watthanaram; as well as visiting Pom Phetch district to assess the water
situation. The minister instructed the 3rd Regional Office of Fine Arts to dig wells for the installation of automatic pumps at the historical sites, which
will immediately pump out the water out when it rains. The ministry is urgently pumping out all the rainwater remaining in Wat Chai Watthanaram. Ms
Sukhumon also followed up on the ministry’s budgeting for the renovation of the historical sites damaged by the floods last year. [Source: NNT]

Culture Minister fears for Ayutthaya sites despite flood protection plan

10 Sepember 2012 - Culture Minister Sukumol Kunplome admitted to having concern about a possible flood threat at historic sites in Ayutthaya,
despite flood embankments being elevated to offer further protection. The culture minister said canal dredging was ordered around the historic sites,
while flood embankments were raised another half metre higher, from the existing height of more than one metre. She said related agencies were
informed to be on high alert to collaborate on flood response. A call centre using telephone number 1765 was launched to receive reports on
potential flooding at historic sites. Meanwhile, following recent floods in the Sukhothai provincial seat, Fine Arts Department director-general
Somsuda Leeyavanich said that historic sites there have not been affected by flooding. The province has prepared high-capacity water pumps to help
drain water within 24 hours in case of possible flooding at the historic sites. (MCOT online news)

German experts to help with post-flood restoration at ancient Ayutthaya temples

29 April 2012 - The German government has dispatched a team of experts to help restore ancient temples in Ayutthaya, which have been damaged
by last year's flood crisis. Culture Minister Sukumol Kunplome, along with Fine Arts Department deputy director-general Anek Seehamart and Phra
Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Historical Park director Chaiyanan Bussayarat, on Saturday, welcomed German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who
brought with him a team of sculpture experts to work on the post-flood restoration of ancient temples in the province. Mr. Westerwelle and his team
went straight to inspect the level of damages, which last year's severe flooding has caused to Ayutthaya's
Wat Ratchaburana. Both Thai and German
delegates also signed a Letter of Intent between the Thai Culture Ministry and a specialist on applied science from Cologne University for
collaboration on the post-flood restoration. Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Historical Park director Chaiyanan said that the
German government has
also confirmed it will provide a 100,000- Euro
grant to help restore other major temples in Ayutthaya, which are popular destinations for both
Thai and foreign visitors. [Source: NNT]

Fire burns down ancient book library of Wat Phanan Choeng

24 April 2012 - Ayutthaya - A fire burned down the library building where an ancient tapitaka and many rare old books were kept in a famous
temple in this central province Tuesday afternoon. The fire broke out at 3 pm at the two-storey building of the temple. The fire quickly engulfed the
building and destroyed all the books. The abbot of the temple said the fire caused damages worth Bt 40 million. [Source: The Nation]

Thailand version of Google Street View launched

24 March 2012 - Six months after starting work on the project, Google Thailand yesterday officially launched the Google Street View service in the
Kingdom - the second country in Southeast Asia in which it is available, following Singapore. Street View is an online technology that provides
panoramic views of city streets and some other areas. Thailand is the 35th country in the world in which Google Street View has been made
available. It was first launched in the United States in 2007. Pornthip Kongchun, head of marketing for Google Thailand, said that six months after the
company embarked on the project, Thai people can now experience Google Street View for themselves. The service currently covers Bangkok and
its surrounding urban areas, Chiang Mai and Phuket. Coverage of these provinces is about 95 per cent. "In Asia-Pacific, Google Street View is
available in Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Australia, Singapore and Thailand. In Thailand, the next cities for Street View will be Chiang Rai, Lamphun,
Lampang, Nakhon Phanom, Hat Yai and Nakhon Si Thammarat, and also Thailand's World Heritage cities," Pornthip said. She added that Google
Street View is designed in part as a tool to leverage Thailand's tourism industry. The Google Street View project in Italy's ancient city of Pompeii
resulted in an immediate 25-per-cent increase in tourists. Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) governor Suraphon Svetasreni said the TAT is
collaborating with Google Thailand to use Street View imagery to promote Thailand's tourist attractions throughout the country by showing the world
what they look like, where they are and how to get there. "The first priority is Thailand's World Heritage [sites]. We plan to allow Google Thailand's
Street View team to collect images of the World Heritage sites started in Ayutthaya and Sukhothai, as well as Sri Satchanalai," Suraphon said. The
TAT has invited people to nominate interesting places or national treasures to be featured in Google Street View for the world to explore at www.
tourismthailand.org/mymiracle. Thapanee Kiatphaibool, assistant director at the TAT's Marketing Information Technology Group, said the agency
expects Google Street View will help increase the number of international tourists visiting Thailand this year. "We expect it should help boost tourism
by even more than the 25 per cent it achieved in Italy's Pompeii. The TAT earlier targeted attracting around 19.5 million people to visit Thailand this
year. With Google Street View we hope it should be higher than that, but we have not yet finalised the numbers," Thapanee said. Pornthip
emphasised that Google has gone to great lengths to safeguard privacy while allowing all Thai users to benefit from the Google Street View feature.
To use Google Street View in Thailand, access http://maps.google.co.th/streetview.  [Source: The Nation]

German assistance for the restoration of a temple compound

17 February 2012 - Germany will help Thailand with the restoration of temples in the former capital of Ayutthaya which were damaged by last year’s
floods. The Federal Foreign Office is making available 100,000 Euro for that purpose from funds earmarked for the preservation of cultural heritage.
During her visit to Thailand on 16 February, Minister of State Cornelia Pieper and the Thai Cultural Affairs Minister Sukumol Khunploem together
decided to launch the joint project “Cultural Preservation Work in Ayutthaya”. Afterwards the Minister of State visited
Wat Ratchaburana, one of the
temples to be restored. Unusually heavy monsoon rainfalls caused catastrophic flooding in 2011, also damaging the temples. Over and above the
restoration work, the project envisages a series of seminars involving Thai partners to ensure transfer of knowledge to local experts. The project is
scheduled to start in the spring of 2012. The former royal town of Ayutthaya was the capital of a kingdom of the same name for more than 400 years.
After its destruction by enemy armies in the 18th century, it was refounded as the Kingdom of Siam with another capital. Its numerous palaces and
monasteries have been included in UNESCO’s World Heritage list since 1991. Minister of State Pieper was visiting Thailand to mark the 150th
anniversary of German-Thai diplomatic relations. In Bangkok she had talks with, among others, the Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister
of Education. [Source: http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de]

Culture Ministry to propose extra THB 200 million for archaeological restoration

12 February 2012 - The Ministry of Culture is set to request an additional budget of THB 200 million from the government to carry out further
restorations of flood-damaged archaeological and religious sites. Minister of Culture Sukumol Kunplome disclosed that the subcommittee on religious
and archaeological restoration has reviewed the proposals made by the Fine Arts Department, the Department of Religious Affairs and the National
Office of Buddhism, which requested an additional sum of THB 200 million from the government, on top of the already-approved THB 1.52 billion,
in order to restore another 122 religious and archaeological sites damaged by the flood. The additional budget is for the restoration of 25 sites
identified by the Fine Arts Department, one site by the Religious Affairs Department and 96 sites by the National Office of Buddhism. The budget
proposal will be firstly forwarded to the Flood Recovery and Restoration Committee on Infrastructure and the Flood Recovery and Restoration
Committee before being submitted to the cabinet for approval. Restoration plans not only include the maintenance of the sites' structures, paintings
and sculptures, but they will also cover the dredging of moats and canals around the Ayutthaya and Sukhothai Historical Parks, to facilitate the flow of
water as a prevention to groundwater seepage and dampness caused by flooding. Additionally, the dredging of moats and canals aims to restore the
panoramic surrounding of the historical sites to their previous conditions in the old days. [Source: NNT]

Culture Ministry worried over impacts of repeated flood on ancient ruins

1 February 2012 - The Ministry of Culture is concerned that the ancient ruins in Ayutthaya Province may be hit by future flooding and has ordered
that the restoration be particularly strong. Culture Minister Sukamol Kunploem, on Tuesday, joined the Fine Arts Department Director General
Soamsuda Leeyawanich on an inspection trip at
Wat Mahathat, located within the World Heritage-listed Ayutthaya Historical Park. Both went to the
temple's wall to check on the flood-induced, 10-meter-long collapsed section. The Fine Arts Department Office in Ayutthaya has installed a number
of wooden sticks to prop up the wall to keep it from collapsing further. Mrs. Sukamol said that the restoration of the damaged ruins must be
exceptionally stronger, with all possible risk spots identified and reinforced to prevent future damage. She added that more attention must be paid to
the restoration of all ancient ruins as more flooding is possible in the future. In addition, the Culture Minister said that Ayutthaya Governor Wittaya
Phewpong has agreed with a plan to ban all fireworks, loud sound system, which can cause significant tremor, and any stage arrangement that can
have impact on the structure of the ruins; during the upcoming light and sound event. [Source: NNT]

Floods expose shoddy restoration at Ayutthaya temples

1 February 2012 - Culture Minister Sukumol Kunplome led Fine Arts officials yesterday to inspect the 10 metre long collapsed wall section of Wat
Mahathat, located within the World Heritage listed Ayutthaya Historical Park. Sukumol said the wall damage was similar to that in several other
ancient sites that had been restored 30 years ago. The restoration project then was under budget constraints, leaving the wall hollow and weak. She
said the restoration this time would strengthen the wall with gapless brickwork. Sukumol also instructed the Fine Arts Office 3 in Ayutthaya to inspect
other sites restored 30 years ago in case they too could be prone to collapse. The officials would discuss with the Ayutthaya governor if the annual
Red Cross Fair 2012, featuring a light and sound show, could affect the World Heritage Site. If so, the risky parts of the show would be cancelled,
she said. As Bt 600 million was already allocated for the restoration of ancient sites on Ayutthaya City Island, Sukumol said the Fine Arts Department
would rehabilitate the sites and strengthen structures, as well as work on flood prevention measures including canal dredging. She said they would
propose an additional budget for the Wat Mahathat wall restoration later. Fine Arts Department chief Somsuda Leeyawanich said her office would
urgently report the Wat Mahathat wall damage to UNESCO as well as the 2012 flood damage at the
Ayutthaya Historical Park and the Si
Satchanalai Historical Park. Special attention would be given to Ayutthaya, which suffered severe damage due to the prolonged flooding. The
department's public works engineering expert, Kittipan Phansuwan, said the wall had several other cracks and subsidence because the previous
restoration hadn't strengthened the structure. As a result, a greater risk of water erosion collapse might be found at other ancient sites that underwent
the same restoration such as
Wat Phra Ram, Wat Mahathat and Wat Ratburana. Wall restoration should involve strengthening the foundations and
use of gapless bricks, he said. The Mahathat wall repair will take 20 days. [Source: The Nation]

Restoration of historic Ayutthaya sites to cope with renewed flood

31 January 2012 - Thailand’s antiquities authorities will speed up restoring the former capital’s historic sites, damaged by last year’s flooding in the
city of Ayutthaya, and reinforce weak structures in preparation for possible repeat flooding in the future. Culture Minister Sukumol Kunplome and
Somsuda Leeyawanich, director-general of the Fine Arts Department on Tuesday inspected the collapsed wall of the Mahathat Temple. A five-
kilometre section of the wall tumbled down during the flood and Ayutthaya’s provincial fines art agency has used wooden staves to prop the
remaining sections of wall to prevent further collapse. The inspection revealed obvious foundation subsidence, restoration of which will make the wall
stronger than they were rebuilt last time, the minister said. More surveying will be done to find any other parts, which could collapse after the historic
site was submerged in months-long flooding last year. It is believed there are many spots that need to be restored and strengthened in preparation for
possible flooding in the future. As a light and sound show is scheduled in February, Ayutthaya Governor Wittaya Phewpong said that there will be
neither a fireworks presentation nor higher than normal level amplifiers which could cause vibration damage. Performance of any fight scene that could
impact the historic site will be cut off. [Source: MCOT online news]

Flood-damaged ancient sites in Ayutthaya being hastily inspected

31 January 2012 - The Governor of Ayutthaya province has ordered related officials to accelerate the inspection of flood-damaged archaeological
sites in the ancient capital of Thailand. Ayutthaya Governor Wittaya Phewpong stated that he has instructed the 3rd Regional Office of Fine Arts
under the Ministry of Culture’s Fine Arts Department to examine all archaeological sites in the province to determine which of them have sustained
damages from the flood last year. According to the Governor, previous inspections have not yet produced any damage summaries. Therefore, once
the current assessment is finalized, a summary report will need to be presented to him in three days in order to be forwarded to the government
accordingly. Mr. Wittaya admitted that the soil under several areas concentrated with archaeological sites has begun to subside. The sites have
already been closed to tourists due to concerns that the ancient structures might collapse. [Source: NNT]

Ayutthaya's Ancient Temple Wall Collapsed

31 January 2012 - The collapsed wall of the Mahathat Temple in Ayutthaya Historical Park has been cordoned off and marked as danger zone by
the Fine Arts Department. The 10-meter length of the 1.7 meter-tall wall of Wat Mahathat Historical Site has collapsed. The wall was damaged by
the recent floods that have submerged the ancient capital of Ayutthaya for months. The floods were suspected to have weakened the internal structure
of the brick wall, causing it to fall after severe flood-induced erosion. Several historical sites nearby are suffering a similar fate. Supoj Phrommanote,
director of Fine Arts Office 3, said the recent flooding has damaged the internal structure of the wall to the extent that the entire wall has been labeled
as a danger zone. In light of the extensive damage sustained by the wall and other structures of the Mahathat Temple, changes will be made to the
performances prepared for the Red Cross Fair in February. Normally, the fair will incorporate various lights, sounds and mixed media performances.
However, with the damaged wall structure, no fireworks will be used and no reenactment of any battle scenes involving loud noises will be allowed.
Tourists will be prohibited from going near the collapsed wall. [Source: tannetwork.tv]

Japanese cultural experts report on status of Ayutthaya World Heritage site

5 January 2012 - In a press conference hosted by the Thai Ministry of Culture’s Fine Arts Department on 22 December 2011, a team of 8 Japanese
experts reported on their recent technical mission to Ayutthaya. H.E. Mr. Vutthikorn Inthraphuvasak, Thai Vice Minister for Culture, opened the
conference thanking UNESCO and the Japanese Government for their continuous support and cooperation in the salvage of the Ayutthaya World
Heritage site. Ms Somsuda Leyavanija, Director of Fine Arts Department, Ministry of Culture, joined her Vice Minister by conveying her gratitude to
the Japanese Government in “protecting the invaluable heritage of Ayutthaya”. Etienne Clement, Deputy Director, UNESCO Bangkok, affirmed
UNESCO’s continuous commitment and support to protect and safeguard the World Heritage Site of Ayutthaya after the tremendous flood in 2011.
“UNESCO is concerned about the recovery of Ayutthaya both in the short-term and the long-term. A multi-disciplinary effort will be needed to
ensure that the historic site and its larger urban and natural context will be sustainably managed in the future”, he said. “From UNESCO’s
perspective, it will be important to comprehensively address all the issues necessary for this long-term sustainability of the site. The issues range from
very specific technical concerns, such as mural conservation to very large-scale issues such as disaster response and integrated urban and
environmental planning”, he said. “Like at other sites in Asia and around the world, UNESCO plays a key role to support governments to mobilize
the needed expertise across all these different specializations to react quickly and plan strategically in response to these kinds of disasters”, Mr.
Clement closed. H.E. Seiji Kojima, Ambassador of Japan to Thailand expressed his gratitude to the Thai people in their support to Japan in the
aftermath of the devastating earthquake this year and confirmed the Japanese flood recovery support for Thailand. In regard to Ayutthaya, Mr.
Kojima confirmed “the importance of Ayutthaya not only for Thailand but for the whole world”, which hugely justifies the intervention of international
and Japanese experts in assessing and restoring the site. In relation to the mutual help and support of the two countries in the aftermath of their
respective disaster situations, Mr. Kojima said: “We can understand the feelings of Thai people and Thai people can understand the feelings of the
Japanese”. A first international expert mission had taken place from 30 November to 1 December to assess the status of key monuments after the
flooding in 2011 with temporary water levels up to 3 meters. On 18-21 December another mission followed by the team of 8 Japanese experts,
composed of conservation specialists, architects, painting restoration specialists and photographers of the National Research Institute for Cultural
properties in Tokyo, Japan, and the Japan Agency for Cultural Affairs. The experts undertook damage analysis, emergency stabilization, restoration
and long-term management assessment.
This survey, like the previous one from late November, again focused on key monuments such as Pompetch, Wat Phra Srisanpetch, Wat Mahathat,
Wat Ratchaburana, Wat Chai Wattanaram, Wat Ayothaya, Wat Maheyong, Wat Ku Deedao, Wat Pradoo, Wat Choeng Ta and Wat Phuttaisawan.
The scientists assessed the monuments’ upper and sub-structures, and the murals in Wat Pradoo, Wat Choeng Ta and Wat Phuttaisawan. For the
expert team, Mr. Wataru Kuwanobe, Director of the National Research Institute for Cultural properties in Tokyo, Japan, debriefed on the status of
the inspected monuments, confirming that the flood did not directly produce major damages and that the site’s main monuments are not at immediate
risk. However, the floods have exacerbated underlying vulnerabilities of the site, which show a series of damages and general deterioration due to
past floods and environmental and human influences over time. The site will need a long-term conservation and management plan and, in reply to a
question from the press, the status of the site’s sub-structures and the ground will need further analysis and measuring. The entire historic island of
Ayutthaya and its surrounding area was flooded for more than a month starting in early October 2011, with a total of 157 historic monuments in and
around Ayutthaya World Heritage Site affected. Ayutthaya was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1991. Founded c. 1350, the historic city was
the second Siamese capital after Sukhothai. [Source: UNESCO Bangkok]