As the magnitude 7.2 earthquake ended on Oct. 15, residents of Sitio Kumayot in Barangay Anonang heard an explosive sound like a thunderclap. Villagers watched in horrified disbelief as the ground cracked open and, with smoke and the stench of sulphur spreading, one side started to rise.
The emerging wall of rock and earth missed by a hairline the toilet of baker Menecia Bautista Aparecio, 43. “We will be living forever in fear, being so close to the fault line,” said Aparecio, who fears returning to her home and now bakes her “pan Bisaya” or “pan kinamot,” a local bread, in the village chapel. The rock face, about three meters high and two kilometers long, raised fears among villagers that more cracks would appear on the ground and swallow them up.
Scientists, who may declare a 300-meter permanent danger zone around the fault, described the appearance of the ground rupture as a “eureka” moment in their search for what they have long suspected was an active earthquake fault in the area. Government scientists said the appearance of the yet unnamed fault, which does not exist on the country’s map of fault lines, triggered the powerful earthquake in Central Visayas. “We are 100 percent sure that this is the generator (of the earthquake),” Teresito Bacolcol told GMA 7 as he noted that the rock face appeared near the quake’s epicenter at the boundary of Sagbayan and Catigbian towns.
“When we saw (the fault), eureka! This is it.” Bacolcol led a team from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), which inspected the rock face last Monday. “We recommend that no structures should be built on top of a fault and within the five-meter buffer zone on both sides of the fault,”