Bagan Earthquake Repairs Will Take ‘Longer than Expected’

By Zarni Mann 29 August 2018

MANDALAY — The Bagan branch of the Department of Archaeology, National Museum and Library said the renovation of earthquake-hit temples and pagodas in the Bagan archaeological zone of central Myanmar will take more time than expected to complete.

A 6.8 magnitude earthquake hit Bagan on Aug. 24, 2016, and damaged almost 400 of the area’s 3,252 pagodas.

Although the restoration of more than 200 pagodas with minor damage was completed within two years of the quake, ones that suffered major damage like Sulamani and Thatbyinnyu are still being repaired.

“We are halfway through repairing the major damages. The work will take longer than expected. It will be complete by 2020,” U Soe Soe Lin, the deputy director of the department’s Bagan branch, told The Irrawaddy.

The deputy director said that the department received technical assistance from UNESCO, the Association of Myanmar Architects, the Myanmar Engineering Society, seismologists, and technicians from technological universities to restore the temples and pagodas.

“Since the repair of these ancient temples is delicate work, it is time-consuming. The teams have to take care not to affect the original cultural and historical value and to strengthen the structures to prevent future damage at the same time,” explained U Soe Soe Lin.

The department said that the renovation work was categorized into three priority levels based on the severity of the damage and the heritage value.

Emergency restoration was done a few weeks after the earthquake, continuing restoration work is 90 percent done and strengthening work is 50 percent completed.

Bagan is the country’s major tourist attraction, housing more than 3,000 ancient pagodas and temples dating from the 9th to the 13th centuries.

Bagan’s bid to be recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site is underway, with expert teams visiting the region in mid-September to do a ground inspection. The result of the inspection will be submitted to the World Heritage Site convention in 2019 for Bagan’s candidacy.