Houses and buildings in Metro Manila including churches, need inspection to ensure that they comply with the standard Building Code, told Dr. Renato U. Solidum, director of the Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (DOST-PHIVOLCS).

Solidum’s warning came in the face of mounting concerns about Metro Manila’s readiness should an earthquake with a magnitude similar to the 7.2 temblor which shook Central Visayas last week hit the crowded metropolis.

Since earthquakes cannot be predicted, Metro Manila should be prepared and take all possible measures for greater safety as early as now, said Solidum. One of these measures is a thorough inspection of houses, schools, office, residential and commercial buildings, churches and other edifices to check if these are structurally safe.

“The Philippines is prone to hazards including earthquakes due to its geological location. It is in the Pacific Ring of Fire, and it is prone to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes…,” stated Solidum.

Historically, the tectonic plates of the West Valley Fault, which runs from San Mateo in Rizal all the way to the city of Taguig, were last activated in 1658 resulting in an earthquake. According to the PHIVOLCS director, these plates are expected to move again anytime within 400-600 years after this. If they do move against each other, the resulting tremor may be as strong as the killer quake that claimed almost 200 lives (as of press time) and toppled numerous structures including historic churches in Bohol and Cebu. Among these are the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño in Cebu City; Church of San Pedro Apostol in Loboc, Bohol; Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Baclayon, Bohol; and the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption in Dauis, Bohol.

According to data by PHIVOLCS, a 7.2 earthquake in Manila and nearby provinces would result to a death toll of at least 37,000 with 604,000 injured and P2.4 trillion worth of damage to buildings. Said data is the result of a three-year risk analysis project by the Philippine and Australian governments. The study was presented during the Launch and Handover of Multi-hazard and Risk Maps for the Greater Metro Manila Area held last Oct. 17 at Crowne Plaza in Ortigas.

The PHIVOLCS director added that the churches in Visayas crumbled during the quake partially because they are made of limestone which easily softens. The 7.2 temblor occurred at 8:12 am on October 15, 2013 with its epicenter located 2 kilometers southeast of Carmen in Bohol

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