Old Bacolod buildings vulnerable to strong quakes

Bacolod City – Decades old buildings here are likely to collapse if a strong earthquake just like the one that hit Surigao del Norte occurs.

This was the prediction of Executive Assistant Jose Maria Vargas, cluster head for City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO), when asked about the stability of structures here.

Vargas said that about 30 percent of commercial buildings in downtown Bacolod are not stable enough to withstand strong temblors.

He pointed out that buildings 15 years old and above at the downtown area would suffer major cracks in cases of earthquakes.

A magnitude-6 earthquake will cause the buildings to collapse, he added.

Vargas said the CDRRMO already assessed key buildings, including the New Government Center, which he said can withstand a magnitude-6 quake.

He said that four years ago, they sent notices to building owners to repair their structures as soon as possible but to no avail.

Vargas also told reporters that they informed the Office of the Building Official (OBO) that several buildings at the downtown area could be a problem.

“It is one of the most problematic areas in case of possible earthquake,” Vargas pointed out.

As to the buildings below 15 years old, “they have passed the Building Code and are safe.”

Still, Vargas also pointed out that Bacolod City is one of the safest areas in Negros Island Region because the city is far from the island’s five fault lines.

“The CDRRMO also trained personnel to handle the rapid earthquake damage assessment system and all of them are ready to be deployed to make an assessment to determine if the building is dangerous for the public,” he added.

Vargas said the CDRRMO also conducted lectures and earthquake drills in various schools.

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