4 sinkholes appear after earthquake
DUMAGUETE CITY—At least four sinkholes have been discovered in a village in the town of Mabinay in Negros Oriental province on Thursday, a day after the village was shaken by an earthquake.
At least 22 families face the prospect of evacuation since their houses are near the sinkholes, which could grow bigger as a result of continuing rain, said Mabinay Mayor Ernesto Uy.
The sinkholes are near the riverbed of Malaiba River in Barangay Hagtu, the last village in Negros Oriental and near the boundary of Negros Occidental.
Uy said an earthquake shook the area around 3 a.m. on Wednesday. Five hours later, he added, he received a call from a village official about the initial discovery of three sinkholes near Malaiba River.
Village officials found the sinkholes, which had grown. By Thursday, a fourth sinkhole had formed, Uy said.
Village officials and residents expressed concern because the flow of the river seemed to have changed. Instead of going downstream, the river flowed into the sinkholes, said Uy.
The four sinkholes are close to each other. The biggest has a diameter of 8 meters while the others have diameters ranging from 2-3 meters.
Uy said the sinkholes were about 60 meters from the bridge that connects Mabinay to Kabankalan City in Negros Occidental.
Uy said officials also found a crack on the ground measuring 8 inches deep outside the riverbed near the sinkholes.
As of Thursday, the town mayor said the sinkholes were no longer visible as the water in the river continued to rise due to continued rain.
Charlie Fabre, provincial environment and natural resources office chief, said a team of at least three people, including geologists, from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Central Visayas, would arrive to investigate the sinkholes in Mabinay.
The teams would bring equipment similar to those used by scientists from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau in Central Visayas to measure sinkholes in Bohol that developed after the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that killed at least 200 people on Oct. 15, 2013.
In March 2014, geologists were kept busy by a series of unusual occurrences in Tagbilaran City and General Santos City.
A sinkhole was found in Tagbilaran while the land appeared to be eroding in parts of General Santos.
In a previous story, the Inquirer reported that in Tagbilaran, the Central Visayas office of the DENR is taking a closer look at a sinkhole in the village of San Isidro that is 6 meters wide and 30 meters deep.
In the early days of its discovery, no one could explain how it formed but Rosita Lipio, caretaker of the land on which the sinkhole was seen, was reported as quoting a nephew that it seemed like the earth suddenly opened up past 4 p.m.
Lipio, according to the Inquirer report, quickly reported the phenomenon to village officials.
Ed Llamedo, DENR Central Visayas spokesperson, had been quoted as saying the occurrence of sinkholes is “actually dramatic.” “It may appear in the surface that the land is still intact but cavities start to scour due to ground vibration, water seepage and fractures or joints on the surface,” he had said.
Llamedo had said he believed the sinkhole is one of the effects of the 7.2-magnitude quake that struck Bohol on October 2013 but which manifested itself only in March 2014.