Daytime, night-time quake drills set on July 30

MANILA, Philippines – The proposed metrowide earthquake drill is a go on July 30, with the 17 cities and municipalities of Metro Manila set to test their disaster response should a powerful quake strike the metropolis.

In a meeting with mayors on Tuesday, June 2, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Francis Tolentino said the drill will be conducted for one hour, from 10:30 am to 11:30 am.

But unlike his earlier proposal, Tolentino said power and communication lines won't be shut down.

The MMDA chair earlier proposed a metrowide shutdown for a more realistic simulation of the widespread damage expected after a powerful quake – a scenario experts say is due to happen to Metro Manila once the West Valley Fault moves. (WATCH: Project MOVE: Preparing for earthquakes)

Tolentino said each local government unit will be releasing details of the drill within the next few weeks.

The mayors of each city will be at the helm of the local simulations.

"We expect all-out participation from schools, hospitals, malls, call centers, offices, the government," Tolentino said.

Asked about how the metrowide drill will affect traffic in the metropolis – already a constant headache for motorists – Tolentino said plans will be ironed out as the date of the drill nears.

"Because we announced this early, we can prepare for it...Hindi siguro ganoon kabigat kapag napag-usapan nang maaga (It won't be that difficult if it's discussed early enough)," he said.

Meanwhile, Pasig City will conduct another earthquake drill on the same day, this time for a night-time scenario.

From 7:30 pm to 8:30 pm, disaster responders will be holding simulations within 3 blocks of the city's bustling central business district in Ortigas.

"We're planning the night-time drill with the disaster management office. The scenario is, what to do when an earthquake strikes at night? We'll test the coordination and ability of local government disaster teams to respond," said Pasig City Mayor Maribel Eusebio.

Eusebio added that the night-time drill will include simulating how rescuers will transport the wounded to hospitals, how enforcers will direct traffic, and how police will maintain order in such a scenario.

She said she was confident about the capability of her city's disaster unit to respond to emergency situations.

The Pasig City rescue team bagged the top prize at the MMDA's "Rescue Olympics" held Tuesday morning at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila.

The event pitted local rescue teams against each other to demonstrate how well they can respond to disasters.

Since the 7.8 magnitude quake hit Nepal in April, there have been fears that Metro Manila is also due for the "Big One."

Government officials also recently released an atlas of the two major fault lines in the Greater Metro Manila area and the vulnerable areas should the fault lines move.

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. 

The MMDA and local government units have been conducting information campaigns to help the public prepare for such a disaster. Rappler.com