MMDA pushes for metrowide earthquake drill

Katerina Francisco

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MMDA pushes for metrowide earthquake drill
The MMDA says a metrowide earthquake drill, where all offices, schools, and establishments are shut down, will help residents better prepare for a strong quake

MANILA, Philippines – With Metro Manila highly vulnerable in the event of a powerful earthquake, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is pushing for a metrowide drill that would realistically simulate the catastrophic effects of a 7.2 magnitude earthquake.

MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino said the agency is drafting an executive order to be submitted to President Benigno Aquino III, proposing a metrowide earthquake drill that would run from 3 pm to 8 pm.

The “realistic” simulation will include shutting down schools, offices, malls, and other establishments, as well as cutting down electricity and communication lines to prepare residents for a possible 3-week disruption in the event of a powerful quake.

Experts say Metro Manila is already due for the “Big One,” a strong earthquake that could strike once the West Valley fault moves. (READ: What dangers await when the West Valley Fault moves?)

In Metro Manila, the death toll could be around 33,500 with at least 100,000 injured, according to a study. Some 40% of residential buildings are likely to be heavily or partially damaged. Total cost of damage could reach P2.3 trillion. (READ: 57 subdivisions, villages traversed by West Valley Fault)

While local government units have been conducting their own earthquake drills, Tolentino said many still do not take the drills seriously, with some refusing to proceed to the evacuation areas as instructed, or simply laughing and taking photos of the exercise. 

The MMDA chief said a more realistic earthquake drill should include simulating scenarios where bridges are destroyed, communication lines are cut, and major roads are impassable.

On Monday, May 18, government agencies launched the most detailed and updated map of two major faults within Greater Metro Manila in preparation for a possible 7.2-magnitude earthquake that may happen within our lifetime.

Cities and towns traversed by the 100-kilometer West Valley Fault may experience earthquakes of up to magnitude 7.2. Areas traversed by the shorter 10-kilometer East Valley Fault are due for, at most, a 6.2-magnitude earthquake. (WATCH: Project MOVE: Preparing for earthquakes)

The West Valley fault line transects Quezon City, Marikina, Pasig, Makati, Taguig, and Muntinlupa and the adjoining provinces of Bulacan, Laguna, Rizal, and Cavite.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is set to repair 6 bridges in Metro Manila in preparation for a strong quake. –

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