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Why mausoleums survived 'Yolanda'

Posted at | Updated as of 01/08/14 6:26 AM

MANILA - Here's something ironic about supertyphoon Yolanda: while thousands of houses were destroyed by the storm, many mausoleums were left standing after the tragedy.

Urban planner and architect Jun Palafox said he made the observation after visiting Tacloban City and other disaster-hit areas in the aftermath of the supertyphoon.

Palafox said structures with concrete roofs were left standing after the storm.

"The long buildings parallel to the shoreline got blown away. The GI roofing, dos agwas, the sloping roof they all got blown away. The kwatro agwas, four sides, maybe fifty percent survived. The concrete roof deck, they survived. It is very noticeable. Most of the buildings were affected but the Chinese cemetery unaffected. All the roofs are concrete roofing," he said in an interview on ANC's Talkback with Tina Palma.

Palafox said the crisis creates an opportunity to build things "better, smarter, safer and more sustainable."

He urged contractors to publish online the bill of materials and specifications to stave off allegations that bunkhouses being built for Yolanda survivors are overpriced.

Palafox said said he gave several recommendations to government to "address hazards before they become disasters."

He also said the current Building Code only plans for structures that could withstand 220 kph winds when "Yolanda" was packing 315-320 kph winds.

Topy Vasquez of the United Architects of the Philippines, meanwhile, said local architects should consider strengthening windows to minimize the effect of a supertyphoon. He said local structures could use typhoon shutters and use tempered glass or tempered laminated glass for windows.

British Ambassador to the Philippines Asif Ahmad, meantime, said the scale of the "Yolanda" disaster would have compromised any government no matter how sophisticated or prepared it was for the superstorm.

In an interview on ANC's Talkback on Monday, he said the UK government was able to charter the first cargo plane of materials from Dubai even before the typhoon hit the Philippines last November.

He said the situation in Aceh, Indonesia after the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004 was different because the government was weak and the devastated areas were a conflict zone.

"Everything that we did from Day 1 was to international standards which is why we see what happened there," he said.

The government is providing 11.1 billion pesos in aid to help rebuild areas devastated by Yolanda in the Philippines.