Phivolcs chief urges compliance with National Building Code

February 7, 2012 11:11 pm 

By Catherine J. Teves

MANILA, Feb. 7 – Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) Director Renato Solidum is advocating anew compliance with the country’s National Building Code (Presidential Decree 1096, Series of 1977) to help lessen death and destruction from earthquakes which the Philippines is at risk for being located along tremor-prone Pacific Ring of Fire.

”It’s always important for structures to be built according to the building code,” he stressed.

He urged the public to avail of Phivolcs data on earthquakes and related hazards in areas where construction is planned so the information can be used in designing and building structures accordingly.

”Don’t build over an active fault,” he warned.

Faults are breaks in the earth’s crust along which geologic movement can occur, causing earthquakes.

Experts already pointed out that proper engineering design and construction will help raise structures’ capability to withstand earthquakes.

Section 1202 of the National Building Code provides that “buildings proposed for construction shall comply with all the regulations and specifications herein set forth governing quality, characteristics and properties of materials, methods of design and construction, type of occupancy and classification.”

Such provision also states that “matters relative to the structural design of all buildings and other structures not provided for in this chapter shall conform with the provisions of the National Structural Code of Buildings, as adopted and promulgated by the Board of Civil Engineering pursuant to Republic Act 544, as amended, otherwise known as the Civil Engineering Law.”

Last Monday, a magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck offshore five kilometers northwest of Tayasan municipality in Negros Oriental province, damaging several structures there and various areas in Regions VI and VII.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported in its Feb. 7, 2012 update as of 12:30 a.m. the earthquake-damaged structures included public buildings, schools, hospitals, gyms, malls, other commercial establishments, houses, churches, roads, bridges and Guihulngan City’s water supply system.

NDRRMC noted that damage from the earthquake reached as far as Iloilo City in Panay Island.

”One lesson we can learn from this is our structures must be properly designed and constructed because damage is possible even if these are located several kilometers from a strong earthquake’s epicenter,” Solidum said.

He noted that after an earthquake, people must first have their damaged structures inspected by engineers to check if these are still safe to occupy again.

”We must also have regular evaluation of structures,” he said.

Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo earlier called for evaluation of public infrastructure in the quake-stricken province.

”I already ordered inspection of government buildings, flood control infrastructure and other facilities,” he said.

Such inspection will help better assess the extent of the earthquake’s damage on infrastructure in the province, he noted.

”We don’t have the estimated cost of damage yet as our district engineers are still conducting the assessment,” he said.

Earlier, Solidum urged people concerned to brace for more aftershocks following the onslaught of Monday’s earthquake.

He said people can expect more aftershocks since such earthquake “was a strong one.”

”Aftershocks will still happen in the succeeding days,” he said.

Experts define an aftershock as tremor that occurs after the main earthquake.

Phivolcs reported recording as of 3 p.m. on Feb. 7 this year a total of 1,009 aftershocks that followed the magnitude 6.9 earthquake off Negros Oriental.

Sixty of such aftershocks were felt, Phivolcs added. (PNA) /scs/CJT/utb

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