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Is it safe to live in high condominium building in Ortigas?

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Is it safe to live in high condominium building in Ortigas?

Fri, 07/22/2011 - 15:30

Are high-rise buildings safe in the Philippines?

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A World Bank report has

Fri, 07/22/2011 - 15:31

A World Bank report has warned about the construction of high-rise buildings in the Philippines, China and Indonesia which are among the countries in the world that are most vulnerable to major earthquakes.

Peter Yanev, a World Bank consultant and one of the best experts in earthquake preparation, warned that the next major earthquake in the East Asian region is inevitable in the future.  Yanev prepared a 24-page report called It Is Not Too Late: Preparing for Asia’s Next Big Earthquake, with emphasis on the Philippines, Indonesia and China.

The report, made available to the public by the World Bank over the weekend, provides the best science, risk analysis, and engineering available to help policy makers and particularly those directly responsible for mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery to anticipate a major earthquake.

"China, Indonesia and the Philippines, for example, are building very tall buildings in earthquake areas, yet their codes were not specifically written for such buildings," according to the World Bank report.

"The codes do not account, for example, that some of these buildings have thousands of occupants, yet they are designed for earthquakes to the same standards as low-rise small buildings, except perhaps for a stricter requirement for design review for complex high-rises according to some codes, such as the Philippine code.  It is arguable, however, how much or how well this is implemented. California also shares the same problem. The codes were never designed specifically for highrises. That needs to change," it added.

The report noted that more than 1.1 million people or 90 percent of all earthquake fatalities worldwide since 1960 have been Asians.  It said some Asian megacities lying close to tectonic fault lines are showing increasing seismic activity including Manila, Jakarta, Penang, and Tokyo-Kobe.

Among the cases that were studied were the intensity 7.8 earthquake in Luzon in 1990, the West Sumatra earthquake in 2007, and the Sichuan province earthquake in 2008.

"All recent and large earthquakes in East Asia have demonstrated that much of the building stock and the critical infrastructure of the region are highly susceptible to earthquake damage. That is the case with recent earthquakes in the Philippines, Indonesia and China, and it is the case with both older and many new structures," the World Bank report said.

It said the Philippines' earthquake of 1990 caused extensive damage to infrastructure in Northern and Central Luzon, including bridges, roads, ports and industry. It collapsed many relatively new commercial buildings, particularly multi-story hotels in the resort City of Baguio, and caused 1,700 fatalities.

The Luzon earthquake epicenter occurred along the 1400 kilometer long Philippine Fault, one of the most well-known and destructive faults in the world and in a country with advanced building codes.

It said much of the damage in the 1990 Philippine earthquake was due to foundation failures due to liquefaction, a type of ground failure in water saturated sandy soil. That affected buildings, roads and bridges, ports, and other infrastructure. It noted the efforts in the Philippines following the 1990 Luzon earthquake in strengthening its bridges.

The World Bank report said building codes need to be updated constantly. "All governments in East Asia and the Pacific can and should improve the earthquake requirements of their codes and need to do a much better job of updating them when it comes to earthquakes," it said.

The report recommended an implementation plan for earthquake risk management, including these short-term measures that should be implemented within a year.

  • Initiate at least one narrowly focused earthquake risk reduction program for maximum impact on potential life losses in the public sector—possibly start with schools, hospitals, and power generation and distribution systems in a major metropolitan area;
  • Assess integration of earthquake risk assessments and risk reduction into infrastructure investments;
  • Review and update existing building codes and their enforcement, specifically for earthquakes;
  • Conduct a critical review of national earthquake risk reduction policies and laws

Over the next five years, the medium-term recommendations are the following:

  • Complete one large but narrowly focused earthquake risk reduction program for maximum impact on life losses in the public sector as a demonstration project;
  • Demonstrate that cost-effective strengthening options are available for vulnerable structures and gain public support—schools are easiest;
  • Redefine the earthquake hazardous areas;
  • Redefine tsunami hazardous areas and improve tsunami warning systems;
  • Update the codes;
  • Strengthen enforcement of the codes and construction quality inspection;
  • Conduct training programs for structural engineers in earthquake risk analysis and risk reduction; and
  • Mandate professional registration for structural engineers, particularly in the earthquake areas of each country.

Long-term recommendations, that need to be implemented in five to ten years, are the following:

  • Initiate long-term earthquake risk reduction programs to impact all key public sectors;
  • Support/initiate long-term earthquake risk reduction programs for the highest risk private structures;
  • Support/initiate long-term earthquake risk reduction programs for the highest risk industries and maximum financial impact; and
  • Pass legislation to require strengthening of private sector structures and infrastructure with or without public financing but with incentives.