Termites damage Hoi An relic sites

After the distancing period because of Covid-19, hundreds of ancient houses and monuments in Hoi An were seriously damaged by termites.
March 31, 2021 | 15:28
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Hoi An Ancient Town has more than 1,000 relic houses with wooden architecture. After the distancing period because of Covid-19, hundreds of ancient houses and monuments in Hoi An were seriously damaged by termites. (Photo: VN Express)

On March 30, Mr. Pham Phu Ngoc, Director of Hoi An Center for Cultural Heritage Management and preservation, informed that according to a survey and assessment of nearly 800 monuments, there were currently more than 260 ancient houses in Minh An, Cam Pho, and Son Phong ward had been seriously damaged by termites. Among those, many relics were classified as houses of conservation value from level three to special such as Chua Cau, Ong Pagoda, the 200-year old house at 41 Nguyen Thai Hoc ...

The houses are "attacked" by termites at force-bearing positions such as columns, trusses, skewers, frames, doors, walls, ceilings, floors,...causing serious damage, unsafety, and ugliness. The remaining structures do not show signs of being attacked by termites, but their wooden structures have a high risk of being damaged.

Monuments in Hoi An ancient town have architecture built mainly from wood. During the social distancing period, many houses were closed. Left with no business activities, no person living and taking care of, together with a humid environment after a series of storms and floods, the houses face favorable conditions for termites to develop.

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Termites attacks are difficult to detect early by the naked eye because they live deep inside the wooden structures, causing damage from the inside out. (Photo: VN Express)

Termites attacks are difficult to detect early by the naked eye because they live deep inside the wooden structures, causing damage from the inside out. Therefore, the authorities have hired the Institute of Ecology and Works Protection - a group of consultants with expertise, using high technology.

Mr. Ngoc said that wood pests in Hoi An constructions are not a new problem. However, the issue cannot be solved once and for good. After restoration, the monuments still need to be taken care of regularly. Through each survey, the constructions heavily damaged by termites will be treated with priority biotechnology, which is equipment to lure termites, create barriers and spray drugs.

"The many and dense termites are one of the risks that will quickly damage the relic sites. The project of dealing with insects in the ancient town has been approved by the People's Council of Hoi An, with the aim of thoroughly handling termite nests that are damaging the wood, preventing their reinfection as well as spread to other monuments," he said.

From 2010 to 2012, the Quang Nam's Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, the Center for Cultural Heritage Management and preservation, and the Institute of Ecology and Works Protection implemented a project on termite control. The project brought high efficiency in the long run. After the floods, the insecticides were washed away, letting the termite develop again.

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Valerie Mai

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