35 families evacuated as more ground cracks appear in Negros village
BACOLOD CITY, Philippines—The Escalante City government has evacuated 35 families living in a remote area that has been declared a danger zone by the Mines Geosciences Bureau due to the growing number of cracks on the ground.
The families left their homes in Sitio Baluk, located in the boundary of Barangays Malasibog and Paitan, about five kilometers from the city proper, on Tuesday and Wednesday after Escalante Mayor Melecio Yao ordered the evacuation.
They were temporarily housed at the Malasibog Elementary School and the Diyos Amahan chapel while the city government was looking for a permanent relocation site, said Yap.
The families had long been told to leave the area after the cracks started appearing in 2007. But they refused to do so.
But early this week, the families didn’t resist the evacuation order. They voluntarily packed their belongings and left their homes, said Provincial Social Welfare Officer Liane Garcia.
Garcia said the families feared for their safety after they noticed the increasing number of cracks on the ground which brought to mind last week’s landslide in a remote gold-mining community in Compostela Valley that killed dozens of people.
Garcia said the fissures in Baluk were of different sizes, some one meter in diameter.
There have also been slight movements of the ground in the sitio lately. Rains in the area have filled the cracks with water, raising concerns that new landslides could occur.
Last December, the MGB in Western Visayas urged local government units to be guided by geohazard assessments in preparing for calamities amid devastating floods and landslides.
Based on geohazard assessments conducted from 2006 to 2010 of 4,053 barangays in 133 municipalities in Western Visayas, the MGB categorized 564 barangays as “high risk,” 550 as “moderate risk,” 700 as “low risk” and 2,239 as posing “no risks.”
High-risk barangays are those with active faults or recent landslides and numerous and large tension cracks that would directly affect the community. These areas also have steep slopes and drainages which are prone to landslide damming (barriers formed by landslides).
Those categorized as moderate-risk areas are those with inactive and old landslides and those with moderate slopes and smaller tension cracks which are located away from the community.
Low-risk villages are those with low and gently s
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