Seismologists warn that 40,000 would die if ‘Big One’ quake hits Manila

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The Big One

Seismologists have estimated that at least 40,000 people would die if a ‘Big One’ earthquake of more than magnitude 6.5 hit Manila.

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The grim assessment was released by Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) today (Tuesday, April 23).

Citing a Risk Analysis Project 2014 report, Ishmael Narag, Officer-in-Charge of Phivolcs Seismological Observation and Earthquake Prediction Division, said the casualties would be spread across Metro Manila, Bulacan, Rizal, Pampanga, Cavite and Laguna.

This would be in the event of a long-feared Big One quake affecting the West Valley Fault.

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Speaking  at a press conference in Quezon City today, Mr Narag said: “The Valley Fault scenario would extend the level of damage and casualties beyond Metro Manila and [through] the software that we are currently using, we were able to evaluate as well the impact in the surrounding provinces. In fact, the casualty count is more than 40,000.”

He added that Phivolcs was seeking to put more measuring devices around the fault to pick up even minor events.

“We need to locate the movements properly so we can study the trend of movements along the fault,” he said.

The press conference was held in the wake of a magnitude 6.1 and magnitude 6.5 earthquakes that struck Zambales in Central Luzon yesterday and Samar in the Eastern Visayas today.

Also today, some senators have called for improved mitigation and preparedness measures.

Senator Sonny Angara pushed for the creation of a Department of Disaster Resilience to respond to the “new normal” of national disasters and climate change.

“This strong earthquake reminds us of the urgency to create a single, independent and permanent agency devoted to disaster management and resilience,” he said.

“This new department will oversee a comprehensive and coordinated strategy in managing natural disasters with the main goal of saving lives and minimizing damage to property.” 

Senate President Ralph Recto, meanwhile, said building standards should be improved. “Furthermore, we should adopt appropriate measures to prepare our people for the big one. Better to be prepared,” he added.

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