Evaluate churches’ stability against earthquakes?Philvocs

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MANILA, Sept. 3, 2012?After the strong earthquake which shook Eastern Visayas and Northeastern Mindanao regions evening of August 31, the director of Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, called on Catholic church officials to check on Church’s buildings to make sure these have not been damaged by the temblor.

Philvocs Director Dr. Renato Solidum said “churches, just like other structures in earthquake affected areas should be inspected by engineers to find out if these were affected by strong ground shaking.”

“All churches in general should be evaluated if these are earthquake-resistant,” he added.

Fr. Jose Edwin Juaban, parish priest of San Nicolas de Tolentino Parish in Quinapondan, Eastern Samar said while there were no casualties in his area, the church sustained cracks on its floors due to strong tremors.

Parang pumutok ang sahig,” he told CBCP Online Radio late Monday morning.  He said he will tap local engineers to further check on the effects of the strong earthquake last Friday.

Surigao Bishop Antonieto Cabajog said he has not received any report of damage to any of the diocese’s 31 churches as of midday today.

Fr. Alex O. Bautista, an architect by profession and Consultant for Heritage Church Architecture, also said the recent strong earthquake makes it even more crucial to look into the structural stability of churches.

Interviewed at his office at the Episcopal Committee for the Cultural Heritage of the Church, Fr. Bautista said parish priests in the earthquake-affected areas should check the structure.

Professionals, such as structural and civil engineers may be tapped to evaluate the churches and look for cracks and movements in the structure and analyze to implement remedial measures.

“Actually, the strength of churches built before were due to the materials used, the adobe blocks or coral stones which provided structural stability even without steel reinforcements,” he said.

He explained the lime used in old churches was to protect the stone from deterioration as it provides the “skin” of the church structure.

Puedeng yung makikita nating cracks ay topical lamang kung sa palitada lang makikita at pagtanggal yung palitada at yung bitak ay nasa layering mismo ng mga bato, then, something has to be done,” he added.

If and when cracks would be seen, there should be markings or “testigo” which will be the “bench mark” to check if there are other movements immediately after the fairly-strong earthquake, Fr. Bautista added.   (Melo M. Acuna)

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