Scientists advises Bicol residents to monitor tsunami prone areas

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Floods in Sorsogon province.Photo by Don Gloriane
Floods in Sorsogon province.Photo by Don Gloriane

LEGAZPI CITY (22-Feb-12) – The Department of Science and Technology (DOST), through the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), has identified areas in Bicol that are prone to tsunami and advised its residents to be watchful of the ocean even during normal times.

Ocean wave disasters need real-time observation and rapid dissemination of warning so that people in these identified areas of Bicol will be prepared, according to DOST regional director Tomas Briñas.

These tsunami-prone areas identified by the Phivolcs in the mapping conducted as early as 2007 are the eastern coastlines of Albay covering the municipalities of Tiwi, Malinao, Bacacay, Malilipot, Sto. Domingo, Rapu-rapu, Manito, Tabaco City, and this city.

In Camarines Sur, the tsunami prone areas mapped by Phivolcs are the municipalities of Caramoan, Presentacion, Lagonoy, San Jose, Tigaon, and Sangay that all sits in the northeastern side of the province.

The municipalities in the northern side of Camarines Sur such as Garchitorena, Lagonoy and Siruma and in the western section—Tinambac, Calabanga, Bombon and Magarao are also in the hazard map.

In Camarines Norte, these areas are the towns of Sta. Elena, Capalonga, Jose Panganiban, Paracale, Vinzons, Talisay, Daet, Basud, and Mercedes that are all at the coastline of the Philippine Sea.

In Catanduanes, an island province at the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 10 of its 11 municipalities are listed as tsunami prone in the Phivolcs hazard map. These municipalities are Virac, Bato, Baras, Gigmoto, Viga, Bagamanoc, Panganiban, Pandan, Caramoran, and San Andres.

Sorsogon’s towns of Prieto Diaz, Gubat, Barcelona, Bulusan, Sta. Magdalena, Matnog, and the Bacon District of Sorsogon City that are also along the Philippine Sea are listed in the tsunami hazard map.

All these Bicol coastal areas are located near the Philippine Trench, a major fault considered as potential earthquake and tsunami generator. They are marked with red color in the map representing tsunami inundation areas.

Briñas said an earthquake with magnitude of intensity 8.1 could trigger at the coastlines of these areas three to more than six-meter high waves that are extremely life threatening.

The advice to residents to observe the ocean, Briñas said, is part of the “Tsunami Risk and Monitoring in the Philippines,” an initiative of the Phivolcs that highlights an effective tsunami warning system.

This system is comprised of dense, real time network of seismic stations, real time sea level monitoring network, rapid communication and local mass alerting systems, accurate hazard and evacuation maps and well-informed citizenry.

The warning system was presented by Phivolcs director Renato Solidum during the “Wave Observation and Disaster Prevention” seminar recently organized in Manila by the Phivolcs in collaboration with the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) and the Embassy of Japan.

The seminar was aimed at generating further research and more importantly, to give people an idea on how to prepare for these ocean wave disasters.

It also opened up a partnership to come up with a collaborative program applicable both in the Philippines and in Japan, according to DOST Undersecretary for Research and Development Graciano Yumul Jr.. (MAL)

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