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Tremor threat in W. Mindanao

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Zamboanga Sibugay—The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) warned on Tuesday people in the Zamboanga peninsula in Western Mindanao that the area was at risk of being hit by a powerful earthquake and tsunami of 10-meter high waves.

Renato Solidum
Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum said it was not possible to predict when and where the earthquake will occur but the area was near the Sulu trench that can cause intensity 8 earthquake if it moved.

“Ang scenario ninyo diyan sa Sulu trench ay possibleng magnitude 8 at intensity 7 sa ibang lugar,” he said.

The Sulu trench moved in 1976 and caused an intensity six earthquake that ripped through Pagadian City and several towns in Zamboanga del Sur. It was followed by a tidal wave that swamped coastal barangays and killed more than 1,000 people.

Phivolvcs described an intensity eight earthquake as extreme ground shaking, making it difficult for people to remain standing up. The possible areas to be affected include Zamboanga City, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Sur and Basilan.

Solidum advised people to “participate in earthquake and tsunami drills undertaken by concerned local agencies so they will know what to do in case of an emergency.”

“The Sulu trench is one of the earthquake generators in Region 9 and it’s last movement was in 1976.” Solidum said.

Phivolvcs Regional Director Allan Labayog called for an immediate profiling of buildings and structures in urban communities in the Zamboanga peninsula “to determine their structural integrity in case of natural calamities and disasters.”

He warned officials against new structures being built in reclaimed areas because of the unstable foundation and new buildings would easily collapse in case of an intensity 8 earthquake.

He pointed to the eight-year-old two-story Sangguniang Panglungsod building along the seaside Cawa-cawa boulevard, which suffered cracks on its walls after a recent light tremor.

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