The government has vowed to do everything possible to prepare for a potentially catastrophic ‘Big One’ earthquake that could hit Manila at any time.
It has long been feared that a 7.2-magnitude quake could be triggered by a movement of the West Valley Fault, which runs under the capital region.
Speaking at the launch of a National Disaster Resilience Summit in Quezon City today (Tuesday, July 30), Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said government was busy preparing for the worst.
“The West Valley Fault is huge and once it moves it is capable of creating large scale earthquakes with magnitude seven or higher and causing massive destruction. That’s why we have been emphasising it to the heads of our local officials to prepare accordingly,” he said.
Part of the preparation is that local government should urge residents to stockpile enough food and water for three days, while barangays should store a week’s worth of essential supplies. Cities and towns should also have more of these items in depots and secure locations.
Lorenzana also said that he was hoping that households had survival kits or ‘grab bags’ containing emergency items and a battery-operated transistor radio.
Meanwhile, Office of Civil Defense administrator Ricardo Jalad, who is also executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, said the national government had a contingency plan for such eventualities.
This includes ensuring that food and water supplies were available, checks on buildings for “earthquake resilience” and the identification of open spaces to use as evacuation centres.
As we reported in April, seismologists have estimated that at least 40,000 people would die if a Big One quake of more than magnitude 6.5 hit Manila.
Ishmael Narag of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said the casualties would be spread across Metro Manila, Bulacan, Rizal, Pampanga, Cavite and Laguna.
Phivolcs director Renato Solidum has long warned that the West Valley Fault is overripe for dramatic activity. The fault, he said, tends to move every 400 years or so. Its last major quake was in 1658 — or 357 years ago.
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