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MANILA, Philippines – With a possible earthquake threatening to shake the metro, Manila holds a city-wide drill.
Is the capital prepared?
David Lozada reports.
The sound of sirens fills Roxas Boulevard.
A magnitude 7.2 earthquake just hit Manila.
Residents evacuate buildings as responders rush to fires and vehicular accidents caused by the quake.
Luckily this is just an earthquake drill by the city of Manila.
The drill assumes two scenarios – the movements of the West Valley Fault system, a major fault line running through Metro Manila, and the Manila trench, which stretches from Mindoro to Taiwan.
Both scenarios bring catastrophe to the historic city.
Philippine Institute of Volcanology director Dr Renato Solidum says quakes are very real threats to the city.
Based on their study, around 31,000 people will die if the West Valley Fault alone moves.
DR RENATO SOLIDUM, PHIVOLCS DIRECTOR: Doon sa West Valley Fault, napag-aralan na namin noon na in the past 1,400 years, apat na beses itong gumalaw and on the average, between 400-600 years. In our lifetime baka gumalaw ito. So ang issue is dapat handa tayo. Hindi dapat tayo maunahan na mangyari ang lindol na ito. (We found out that for the past 1,400 years, the West Valley Fault has moved 4 times with an average of 400 to 600 years in between. It might move within our lifetime. The issue here is that we need to be prepared. This earthquake cannot happen before we’re prepared.)
Around 80% of public and private establishments in the city participate in the drill.
But not everyone takes it seriously.
Some do not follow the right evacuation routes. Some take selfies and photos during the drill.
Manila disaster risk reduction and management Johnny Yu says this is a problem in every emergency drill.
JOHNNY YU, MANILA DRRM CHIEF: Marami po talagang hindi nagiging serious. Seryoso na lang po sila kapag nandyan na yung actual scenario. (Many civilians don’t take drills like this seriously. They only become serious when the actual disaster happens.)
But he believes the drill is one step nearer to building a more resilient city.
JOHNNY YU, MANILA DRRM CHIEF: Our city government is ready to respond. Pero kulang pa ho. Hindi namin kakayanin ang 3.5 million na population ng Maynila, even with the 2000-3000 city hall employees. Hindi pa rin ho namin kaya. We need all the resources. (Our city government is ready to respond but we still have a long way to go. Even with around 3,000 city hall employees, we can’t respond to the needs of the 3.5 million residents of Manila. We need all the resources we can get.)
With the city-wide drill, Manila hopes its response teams and residents will be more prepared when an earthquake strikes. But officials say even with good preparation, there’s still no telling what future disasters can bring. When the real test comes, Manila hopes it will be ready.
David Lozada, Rappler, Manila. – Rappler.com