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Philippine bishops urge priest to conduct structural checks on churches

Body voices safety fears in event of possible earthquakes

ucanews.com reporter, Manila

ucanews.com reporter, Manila

Updated: May 19, 2015 09:25 PM GMT
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Philippine bishops urge priest to conduct structural checks on churches

Churches were among structures that were badly damaged during the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Bohol province in 2013. (File photo by Vincent Go)

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The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines has urged priests to check the structural integrity of their parish churches, particularly those located along or near earthquake faults.

"We have to remember that churches are most often the sanctuary, both physically and spiritually, of people who may be affected by calamities or crisis," Fr Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the public affairs committee of the bishops' conference said on Wednesday.

Not all parishes have looked into the structural integrity of their churches, according to the bishops’ conference.

"I enjoin all pastors to look into this matter in the interest of precaution and safety," Secillano said.

The voice of concern follows the release on Monday by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) of a comprehensive "Valley Fault System Atlas" to ensure public awareness of Metro Manila's susceptibility to a high-intensity earthquake.

The atlas contains images of streets and villages near a fault line.

Secillano said the government should not stop in identifying danger zones, and "must have a comprehensive survival plan in case a cataclysmic event happens in our country".

"It would help us greatly if the government already has effective strategies that will mitigate damage and help people survive if a calamity much like the Nepal incident happens in our country," the priest said.

Phivolcs director Renato Solidum said on Monday that a 7.2-magnitude earthquake could hit Manila at any time since it sits near a fault line.

An earthquake of that magnitude in Metro Manila could potentially kill more than 37,000 people according to an Australian-funded study last year.

A 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit Bohol in 2013 killed at least 220 people and damaged 73,000 structures, including centuries-old churches.

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