GenSan coastal area evacuated due to suspected sinkhole

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/16 February) — The city government forcibly evacuated 46 families from an urban coastal community here on Sunday following the emergence of a suspected sinkhole in the area.

Joseph Alvin Veneracion, chair of Barangay Dadiangas South here, said Monday they cleared a portion of Purok Tinago in their village of all its residents to prevent possible disasters resulting from the sinkhole, which was initially estimated at around 40 meters in diameter.

He said the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) issued the evacuation order as a precautionary measure pending an evaluation by geology experts of the occurrence.

“We did a forced evacuation of the area as we deemed it quite risky for residents to remain there at this time,” he told reporters.

The village official said the sinkhole reportedly emerged early Sunday at the shores of Purok Tinago, specifically near the pier and anchorage area of motorboats ferrying passengers and cargo to and from this city and Balut Island in Davao Occidental.

The area is adjacent to the city’s Queen Tuna Park and several commercial establishments, including a hotel and a gasoline station.

Veneracion said the sinkhole was just a few meters from a community that hosts some 46 households and threatened the stability of some of the houses there.

He said the affected families, which comprise a total of 206 individuals, are currently taking temporary shelter at the covered court of the Irineo Santiago National High School.

Personnel from the City Social Welfare and Development Office are currently attending to the needs of the evacuees, he said.

Brenda Maniago, one of the evacuees, said they initially noticed the unusual occurrence in the area at around 5 a.m. Sunday.

“We saw the sand slowly sinking and with bubbling water coming out of it. It was a small area at first but it expanded after a few hours,” she said.

She said the sinkhole engulfed a huge concrete structure where operators or owners would usually pitch their motor boats while on anchor.

Maniago said one of their neighbors dived into the sinkhole on Sunday afternoon and tried to determine its depth and possible cause but failed to make any progress.

Veneracion said they have assigned some of their personnel to watch over the sinkhole and prevent residents from getting near it.

He said the CDRRMO has also sent some of their employees to assist in the monitoring of the affected area.

He added that personnel from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Mines and Geosciences Bureau in Region 12 and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and seismology are scheduled to study and assess the site on Monday. (MindaNews)