Negros fault line discovered since 2008

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Saturday, February 11, 2012


CEBU CITY -- A Manila-based environment studies professor said the fault line that caused the strong earthquake in Central Visayas last Monday has been known since 2008.

The statement is contrary to claims of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) that a new fault was discovered after the 6.9-magnitude earthquake that occurred before noontime on Feb. 6, 2012.

Lemnuel Aragones said the discovery was made by private geologists hired by Negros Occidental to prepare a land use map for the province.

The Negros Occidental land use map was for a 2008-2013 project.

“They do not recognize geologists’ findings not belonging to Phivolcs,” Aragones told reporters.

“The land use plan of a province can show the fault lines. We are living in a disaster-prone zone so we have to be prepared and consider the faults in Cebu,” he said.

In Lapu-Lapu City, an official announced that all government-owned facilities are safe to use even after the 6.9-magnitude earthquake.

In a press conference, the Lapu-Lapu City Engineering Office said most government-owned structures in the city, including public schools, only suffered hairline cracks.

Engineer Allan Pedrigal, Lapu-Lapu City Engineering Office officer-in-charge, said they have issued certifications to government-owned buildings that they are safe to use.

They have issued certifications to Barangays Maribago, Pajo, Pajac, Looc and other barangays whose government buildings were not damaged by the earthquake.

With the certifications, public schools in the city can resume classes safely.

Pedrigal said they have received word from one of their personnel stationed in the island barangays that there are no structural problems in their buildings.

They said some minor damages were found in some parts of the old Lapu-Lapu City Public Market, but Pedrigal said remedies are underway.

For private buildings, Pedrigal said private individuals or corporations can hire their own building engineers to inspect their structures.

Aragones has a doctorate degree in Tropical Environment Studies and is an associate professor at the University of the Philippines in Diliman.

He was also involved in the cetacean studies in Tañon Strait and served as consultant to environmental lawyers in filing the case aimed at protecting dolphins filed at the Supreme Court.

He said no tsunamis can be expected in Tañon Strait because it is a narrow gap between the islands of Negros and Cebu. This means there is no place for movement except of the water levels.

Meanwhile, a 49-member team composed of Cebu-based mining volunteers has been sent to Negros Oriental to assist in rescue and retrieval operations.

The team was recently deployed jointly by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association (PMSEA), Carmen Copper Corp., Apex Mining Corp., Philex Mining Corp., Philippine Saga Mining Corp., and Quarry Ventures Philippines Inc.

The PMSEA also sent a water purifier, water tank and plastic bottles for purified water distribution.

Carmen Copper Corp. sent an 18-member team; while Apex Mining Corp. and Philex Mining Corp. sent eight and 12 rescue members, respectively. Philippine Saga Mining Corp. sent an 11-member response team.

Death toll

The number of fatalities from the quake that struck Negros and Cebu islands has risen to 40 on Saturday.

Television report said one more body of a girl was dug up in Barangay Solunggun, La Libertad town during the search operations for more than 40 people who went missing after the quake.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), in its 8 p.m. Friday report, recorded 39 fatalities all from Negros Oriental.

The fatalities include 16 in Guilhungan, eight in Jimalalud, three in Tayasan, one in Bindoy, two in Manjuyod and two in Ayungon. Deaths in La Libertad rose to eight with the recovery of one body.

The NDRRMC also recorded 54 people injured and 71 others missing.

Aftershocks

Philvocs Director Renato Solidum said as of Saturday night, they have recorded more than 1,400 aftershocks, which hampered rescue and retrieval operations in the quake-hit areas in Negros Oriental.

He said aftershocks continued to rattle Negros Oriental and nearby provinces.

According to the Phivolcs website, there were five aftershocks recorded in Negros Oriental Saturday, with the strongest located in La Libertad at 4.5 magnitude occurring at 1:39 p.m.

A mild quake was registered by the agency at 4:59 p.m. at magnitude 4.2 in Guihulngan town also in Negros Oriental.

Based on the United States Geological Survey (USGS) website, a 4.9-magnitude quake was recorded at 5:39 p.m. in the Negros-Cebu region with a depth of 10.6 kilometers.

Solidum said aftershocks will decrease in coming days.

More families in the quake-hit areas are still staying in tents and refused to return to their homes due to fears from the aftershocks.

The NDRRMC's latest bulletin said the total number of population affected in Central Visayas is 21,076 families or 93,397 persons.

It also said the total cost of damages incurred by both passable and impassable roads and bridges was pegged at P364,309,000.

Retrieval operations were still ongoing. (BAP/JKV of Sun.Star Cebu/Sunnex)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 12, 2012.

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