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Palafox calls for structural audit of all Metro buildings

/ 06:10 PM April 27, 2015

AFTER a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Nepal on Saturday killing more than 3,000 people and injuring 6,000 more, a Filipino architect and urban planner suggested that all buildings in Metro Manila undergo structural audit to determine if these could withstand a very strong earthquake.

In an interview with Radyo Inquirer, architect Jun Palafox cited the strong need for the country “to address the hazards to architecture and urban planning before they become disasters.”

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He explained that if a 7.2-magnitude mega-quake hit Metro Manila, an estimated 20 percent of the structures would probably collapse.

Citing a 2004 study of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Palafox said an estimated 50,000 people would be killed and that Metro Manila would be divided into four since bridges would collapse and roads would be cut.

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“Ten-hectare evacuation areas should be identified for metro residents and workers,” the architect added.

He, however, noted that 11 years after the JICA study, no concrete measures have been taken to address these hazards in case of a strong earthquake.

“There should already be a structural audit on buildings, especially government structures,” the architect and urban planner said, noting that 2 percent of tall buildings and 20 to 30 percent of low-rise buildings would collapse in a strong quake.

He added that the bridges and structures with the tendency to collapse should already be marked and identified.

“There are still structures above the fault line. They should already be identified and transferred to safer areas,” added Palafox noting that addressing the hazards would be 90 percent less costly than rehabilitation.

As for old buildings, the architect explained that these should undergo structural retrofitting to reinforce their strength. Meanwhile, ongoing constructions are advised to have their own earthquake analysis before, during and after construction.

“All should have an emergency preparedness plan,” he added.

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READ: Are we ready for a 7.2 quake? Legarda urges retrofitting of infrastructures

In 2011, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) drew an earthquake response plan in preparation for a magnitude 7 earthquake. Dubbed as Oplan Metro Yakal, the response plan identified four possible evacuation areas in Metro Manila in case of a strong quake, which would include the Veteran’s golf course in Quezon City, Villamor golf course in Pasay City, the Wack Wack golf course in Mandaluyong City and the Intramuros golf course in Manila.

The Oplan Metro Yakal divides the metro into the north, south, east and west sectors for easier disaster response. Tolentino said the response plan is also based on the 2004 joint study of the agency, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) and JICA, which showed the country’s vulnerability to strong tremors.

Tolentino added that for faster disaster response, the sectors would be color-coded. Rescue workers for the northern sector will wear red, those in blue will respond to the southern sector, orange responders will be assigned to the eastern sector while rescuers wearing green will be for the western sector.

Under the recommendations of the study, it was suggested that in case of an intensity 8 quake, fuel would be rationed while for an intensity 7, classes would be suspended in all levels. SFM/AC

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TAGS: architecture, building safety, buildings, Disaster response, disaster risk reduction and management, Earthquake, Evacuation, Global Nation, Japan International Cooperation Agency, Jun Palafox, Metro Manila, Nepal, Rehabilitation, relief, rescue
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