AT LEAST four sinkholes have formed in Barangay Hagtu, Mabinay town in Negros Oriental following what was believed to be an earthquake of still unknown strength having occurred in the area early Wednesday.
No casualties have been reported but at least 22 households will be affected should the sinkholes grow bigger in size with the continuous rains, Mabinay Mayor Ernesto Uy said, adding that a pre-emptive evacuation is in the offing if warranted.
As heavy rains continue to inundate the upland town, Uy said the local government unit is keeping a close watch of the sinkholes located near the riverbed of the Malaiba River in Barangay Hagtu.
Hagtu is the last village in Negros Oriental with Kabankalan, Negros Occidental situated just about 50 meters from the bridge, said the mayor.
According to the mayor, he received a call from Hagtu village officials that five hours after the tremor, which was felt around 3 a.m., Wednesday, three sinkholes appeared at the Malaiba River vicinity.
There was no immediate available data from the local Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) seismic station in Sibulan, Negros Oriental.
Officials maintained vigilance since Wednesday as the size of the sinkholes were said to be increasing and by Thursday, a fourth sinkhole had formed, Uy said.
What added to the concern of officials and residents in Mabinay was that the river water no longer flowed downstream in its natural course but went into the sinkholes, the mayor added.
The area where the sinkholes were found is about 60 meters away from the bridge that connects Mabinay to Kabankalan.
As of Thursday afternoon, the town mayor said the sinkholes are no longer visible as the river waters continue to rise due to continuous rains.