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Legarda calls for heightened earthquake preparedness

April 9, 2017

SENATOR Loren Legarda has renewed her call for “heightened” earthquake preparedness following several tremors that rocked southern Luzon in the past few days.

At least two earthquakes with magnitude 5.6 and 6.0 jolted Batangas and were felt in nearby areas including Metro Manila on Saturday, four days after a 5.5 earthquake also hit the province.

“The key to effective disaster prevention is planning. We never know when an earthquake will occur. But we should know what to do before, during and after the occurrence of such events. Regular safety drills should be done to familiarize citizens with safety and disaster preparedness measures,” she stressed.

She also reminded disaster management agencies, local government units, community leaders, and citizens to prepare for the “Big One” or the projected 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Metro Manila.

“We have to ensure that buildings are not standing on active faults. Evaluation and retrofitting of public and private infrastructure is crucial in ensuring that buildings, bridges and other similar structures can withstand strong earthquakes,” she said.

Legarda said earthquakes turn into major disasters due to unsafe structures — poorly built structures, buildings in inappropriate places, inadequate design and materials specification, and shortcuts in construction.

LGU leaders must prepare their communities especially by determining open spaces for safe refuge when earthquakes occur and crafting evacuation plans that would help citizens.

She also raised the importance of an effective early warning system and massive information and education campaign to equip citizens with knowledge on what to do before, during and after such disasters.

She cited the “5 p.m. chime” or the “Municipal Disaster Management Radio Communication Network” of Minato City in Japan wherein every 5 in the afternoon the instrumental version of the Japanese folk song “Yuyaku Koyake” is heard in speakers around the city.

The daily “5 p.m. chime” is a way to ensure that the broadcast system and speakers are working correctly because the speaker network is used to warn people of emergency situations, especially disaster warnings, she said.

She said the 2004 Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study showed that without the necessary interventions, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake in Metro Manila could destroy 40 percent of residential buildings, damage 35 percent of all public buildings, kill 34,000 people, injure 114,000 individuals, and the ensuing fires will also result in 18,000 additional fatalities.

Source: Journal