Legarda: Remain Vigilant, Take Safety Precautions Amid 7.2 Earthquake in Visayas

October 15, 2013

Amid the strong earthquake that hit the Visayas area, Senator Loren Legarda today called on affected communities to remain vigilant for possible aftershocks and other effects of the temblor.


On Tuesday morning, The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported that a magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit Carmen, Bohol and affected nearby towns and provinces. The NDRRMC is still assessing the damages, casualties and other effects of the earthquake.


“This is a very unfortunate incident. Initial reports say that at least four people were killed and we hope there are no more fatalities. The strong temblor and its effects may have caused fear among our citizens and it is important that we keep our people aware of what they must do to be safe from the possible after effects,” said Legarda.


“It is also unfortunate that many structures have collapsed, including historical churches that are centuries old. As several critical structures have been damaged, tourism in the region will likely be affected. Amid this disaster, we are reminded that the increasing frequency and magnitude of earthquakes highlight the need for early action,” she added.


The Senator also reiterated her call for preparedness against earthquakes in all parts of the country as a temblor of the same magnitude can happen any time.


“According to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), the Marikina Valley Fault Line is ripe for movement but no one can predict the exact time when it will move. This makes preparedness for such eventuality even more important,” she said.


Legarda said that the Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study (MMEIRS) conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency in 2004 revealed that a 7.2-magnitude earthquake in Metro Manila would cause the destruction of 40% of the residential buildings, damage 35% of all public buildings, kill 34,000 people, injure 114,000 individuals, and the ensuing fires will also result in 18,000 additional fatalities.


“The study also contains priority actions that should have been undertaken 3-6 years after the study was publicized to reduce the impacts of such a strong tremor,” she pointed out.


Among the priority steps that must be undertaken include the promotion of disaster-resilient urban development; ensuring the structural integrity of buildings and critical infrastructure; formulating emergency supply system of water, food and other necessities; and determining open spaces for safe refuge when tremors occur.


“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. Inspection during the construction of both public and private infrastructure is important. The additional expense required for making structures safe from earthquakes is worth it especially if it would save thousands of precious lives,” she stressed.


Legarda said that the government must ensure that all structures, especially bridges, school buildings and hospitals, are earthquake-proof through the conduct of a nationwide structural evaluation and by retrofitting these structures to allow them to withstand destructive earthquakes.