What happens to Guadalupe Bridge during a quake?
MANILA. Philippines – As a lone siren pierced through the air, Guadalupe Bridge became a wreckage site. Piles of debris and fallen tarpaulins littered the road. Bodies were strewn on the ground, trapped beneath the rubble. Two cars were stuck. One was covered with branches and leaves, while the other was too beaten up to move.
This was the staged scene at the northbound lane of EDSA Guadalupe on Wednesday, June 22, for the 2nd Metro Manila earthquake drill. This was a simulation of the collapse of the bridge and MRT line if the predicted 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the area.
According to Edison Gonzales, MMDA public relations officer, the Guadalupe Bridge is one of the structures in Metro Manila expected to collapse in a strong earthquake. When it does, Metro Manila will be isolated from the surrounding provinces in the south.
In 2015, the Guadalupe Bridge was among the 6 bridges scheduled to undergo retrofitting by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). Along with Ayala, Lambingan, MacArthur, Quezon, and San Juan bridges, Guadalupe Bridge is due for repair to ensure its structural integrity in case of a devastating earthquake.
“Araw-araw ito dinadaanan ng maraming tao at bus. Marami na din siyang crack,” Gonzales said. “Isa ‘to sa pinaka-prone na structure na puwedeng mag-collapse.”
("A lot of people and buses pass here every day. It also has a lot of cracks already," Gonzales said. “This is one of the structures that is most prone to collapse.")
What will happen if there’s an earthquake?
The simulation included vehicular fire accidents, victims trapped under the fallen billboards and debris from the collapsed MRT line, and people trapped inside their cars while their cars are trapped under rubble and branches.
Meanwhile, the hanging taxi under Guadalupe Bridge served as a simulation of a car being thrown off the bridge during the earthquake.
“Kapag matigas ang ulo ng driver at patuloy pa rin ang takbo niya habang nage-earthquake, puwedeng tumalsik ang kotse sa bridge,” Edward Gonzales, MMDA South Quadrant coordinator, said.
(If the driver is stubborn and keeps driving during an earthquake, the car can be thrown off the bridge.)
According to experts, the important thing to do when driving a car during an earthquake is to calm down and pull to the side of the road. Drivers are also advised to turn off the engine and put the handbrake on.
Once the shaking stops, drivers and commuters are advised to vacate the car and head to an open area that is safe. Avoid tall buildings, steep slopes, or places that are risky.
The scenario also included people falling off the bridge and plunging into the river below.
For the simulation to be realistic, several volunteers pretended to be victims with fake blood and wounds painted on their faces and bodies. Meanwhile, 6 volunteers also jumped off the bridge for the water rescue simulation.
Like any disaster simulation, the scene at the Guadalupe Bridge would not be complete without the presence of the rescuers.
There were ambulances, firetrucks and rubber boats on the scene, while trained medics, firefighters and extraction teams ran toward victims who were crying out.
Aside from the MMDA, the local government units within the South Quadrant provided manpower for the simulated rescue operations during the drill.
The Makati Rescue, along with rescuers from Navotas, joined in the drill on the bridge. Meanwhile, Pateros firefighters responded to the vehicular fire incidents.
“Lahat ng local government dito nag-cooperate at nag-participate para sa drill,” Gonzales said. (All the local governments here cooperated and participated in the drill.)
He applauded the support each local government unit gave to the event, saying that they even had to limit the number of participants and volunteers for the simulations at the Guadalupe Bridge and in the other simulations within the South Quadrant.
“Kahit nga ‘yung mga hindi kasama sa Metro Manila gusto rin sumama e,” Gonzales said, citing Rosario, Cavite as one of the municipalities that wanted to join.
Private organizations such as the DMCI Holdings, Rescue Tech Volunteer, and Red Cross, also participated in the drill.
When the West Valley fault line moves, the potentially devastating earthquake is expected to isolate Metro Manila and surrounding areas for days, resulting in food and water shortage. Given the projected damage of the earthquake in the capital region, surrounding provinces are expected to be among the first responders in Metro Manila.
‘Still needs improvement’
Even though many of the MMDA personnel and volunteers believed that this year’s MM Shake Drill was better than last year, Gonzales insisted there was still room for improvement.
“Awhile ago sa Camp Aguinaldo, we were already talking about the 3rd MMShakeDrill,” he said. “Gusto namin na mas maayos next year at mas marami pa ang sumama para lahat tayo maging handa sa kahit anong mangyari.”
(Awhile ago in Camp Aguinaldo, we were already talking about the 3rd MMShakeDrill,” he said. “We want it to be more organized next year with more people participating so that everyone will be ready for anything that can happen.”)
As the #MMShakeDrill prepares everyone for the earthquake, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said that they plan to retrofit the Guadalupe Bridge to make it earthquake-ready when the time comes. – Rappler.com
Alysha Nacino is taking up BA Journalism at the University of the Philippines-Diliman. She is also a Rappler intern.