• MMDA urges metrowide earthquake census

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    THE Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) on Wednesday called for a metrowide earthquake census in the wake of the magnitude 7.2 tremor that badly damaged Bohol and Cebu last week.

    MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the earthquake risk survey is very vital in identifying public and private buildings, including residential houses that have structural deficiencies, and will enable local engineers and building officials to implement corrective measures.

    “In view of the clamor to revisit some of the provisions of the National Building Code, we should start this earthquake risk audit so we can plan and implement contingency measures in case a strong earthquake hit Metro Manila,” he said.

    Similar to a population census, the earthquake survey shall be simultaneously carried out by the 17 local government units (LGUs) in the metropolis, tapping local engineering students from various universities as enumerators, Tolentino said.

    He explained these enumerators will be the ones doing the house-to-house inspection and survey, which will focus on the structural integrity of the structure.

    “A hazard risk audit of specific structures should be made quickly based on engineering analysis and earthquake reduction formulas. Although earthquakes are natural and unavoidable, buildings and structures do not need to collapse or be seriously damaged to save lives,” Tolentino said.

    The MMDA chief stressed that data gathered from the house-to-house survey shall be used by the local building official and engineering offices to enforce preventive and corrective measures to the identified structures.

    “The result of the earthquake census should lead to retrofitting of public and private buildings based on risk assessment and cost benefit analysis and other engineering, seismic, and geological models to reduce quake structural deficiencies, thereby preventing unnecessary loss of lives and properties,” Tolentino further said.

    Stressing that time is of the essence, Tolentino said the earthquake risk survey should be done after the barangay elections on October 28 with the LGUs at the helm.

    Tolentino also cited the findings made by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAid) which predicted 37,000 deaths in Metro Manila alone in the event of a 7.2 magnitude earthquake.

    He said the study will help MMDA, in coordination with concerned government agencies and the private sector, to make the necessary preparations and risk reduction measures. RITCHIE A. HORARIO

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