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Families told to evacuate site, but mayor wants MGB signal

/ 12:02 PM February 12, 2012

About 60 families in sitio Proper in barangay Vive, Ronda town, west Cebu, were urged to evacuate after geologists found longer, wider cracks in two of the highest mountains in the area.

But Ronda Mayor Mariano “Nonie” Blanco III said there was no hurry to evacuate unless  there is a formal recommendation from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).

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Blanco said the three-kilometer crack seen in the mountains was observed there  since last year following heavy downpours, which hit the town located 81.5 kilometers southwest of Cebu City.

Blanco said the cracks could have widened after  Monday’s earthquake, but he has not seen it. MGB geologists inspected the site and saw the cracks.

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Only the narrow path crossed by residents to head to their homes and farms had short, shallow cracks.

Elsewhere, residents placed pieces of wood in some of the cracks that they found too big to jump across.

One resident said a  neighbor’s dog fell through the cracks and disappeared.  The  cracks are so  deep residents can’t see the bottom.

The MGB carried out a forced evacuation of four families living close to the mountain last Friday after viewing  aerial footage of TV Patrol Central Visayas showing long and deep cracks in the mountains.

Senior geologist Maria Elena Lupo said most of the cracks were old and the 6.9-magnitude  earthquake last Monday only widened it.

“If it rains heavily and the faults will be filled with water, it can easily make the land weak and cause a landslide. It is something that we don’t want to happen, so we recommend that the residents evacuate immediately,” Lupo said.

But Mayor Blanco said the cracks, located one kilometer from the nearest residential area, were a familiar sight and residents don’t see it as alarming.

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The mayor said disaster relief personnel who went to check barangay Vive after the quake didn’t mention the need to declare the barangay a calamity area.  The team reported cracks in at least five structures in barangay Vive.

An evaluation is in progress, said Blanco.

Blanco said that if an evacuation is ordered, the municipal government would have to find a relocation site and look for  material assistance to help  families rebuild their homes elsewhere.

Barangay Vive has 200 households with about 1,000  persons.

Barangay captain Canuto Sabio said their chapel along the provincial road can be used as an  evacuation center.

“But our problem really is that the residents don’t want to stay in an  evacuation center. They would come here at night but would leave in the morning to work in their farms,” Sabio said. With Correspondent Jhunnex Napallacan

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