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Gas leak exposes shaky faultline

EVEN without an earthquake, the Marikina Valley Fault System could cut gas pipes and cause another explosion similar to the Two Serendra blast that killed three people and injured five others last May 31, a renowned geologist said on Saturday. Dr. Carlo Arcilla, dean of the University of the Philippines National  Institute of Geological Sciences, said fault lines are dynamic and constantly moving even without an earthquake and even if it moves only by millimeters, it could stress gas pipes and cause them to be cut. “Moving faults could cut gas lines,” Arcilla said a day after investigators said the Two Serendra blast was not a terrorist act but an accidental explosion caused by leaked gas. Noting that some parts of Bonifacio Global City are right on top of the Marikina fault line, Arcilla said he had earlier warned developers against building on the fault line. “Why not spend a few thousands to check if your property sits on a fault? It’s not that expensive,” the geologist said, expressing dismay that developers preferred to hire feng shui consultants for their high-rise developments. The Marikina Valley Fault System extends from San Mateo, Rizal in the northeast to Taguig City on the south and goes under the cities of Quezon City, Marikina, Pasig and Taguig. Arcilla also faulted the government for issuing environmental clearance certificates for such realty developments when a study would certainly have shown the geohazard. Arcilla and fellow geologist and UP professor Carlos Primo David were among the experts that the government tapped to help the Bureau of Fire Protection establish the cause of the Serendra blast. Assistant Secretary Raymond Liboro of the Department of Science and Technology said the findings of David and Arcilla were based on scientific data only and were not connected to legal concerns that may arise from the Serendra blast. “Our findings were based on science. Our scope of work were just to provide additional experts and answer scientific queries,” Liboro said. “The fire bureau and other investigating agencies wanted to know from us how much (gas) force is needed to blow away a piece of slab 25 meters away.” “Scientists and engineers were there at the crime scene to help the fire bureau. We compared the Serendra blast with other similar incidents, even those that happed abroad, read findings and see if things will match with one another,” David added. In a press conference eight days after the blast, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II said on Friday that investigators found no sign of explosives at the site of the Serendra blast and concluded that a gas leak caused the explosion at the upscale condominium. “The explosion was not caused by a bomb. That is the first conclusion. We are saying this is likely a gas explosion,” Roxas said. The blast in the up-scale residential area of the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig blew out the wall of the apartment, hurling a concrete slab 25 meters across the street where it crushed and killed three people in a passing delivery van. The explosion, which took place near a row of popular nightspots, also injured at least five other people. In a statement, Ayala Land Inc., a shareholder of Serendra Inc., the developer of Two Serendra at the Bonifacio Global City, said it appreciated the efforts of the government’s Inter-Agency Task Force in taking a thorough and scientific approach in its investigation of the May 31, 2013 incident. “The IATF announced that their investigations ruled out a bomb or explosive as the cause of the explosion, and that, as of this date, it appears to be consistent with a gas explosion, most likely LPG,” Ayala Land chief executive Antonio Aquino said. “A more definitive pronouncement on the cause...will be the subject of more analysis and consultation with experts.” Roxas said the different investigating agencies could find no explosive residue, bomb fragments or blast crater, all characteristics of a bomb blast.
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