Loren deplores Metro’s lack of preparedness for major quake

August 27, 2014

Metro Manila is not prepared when the “Big One’’strikes, despite warnings in the past that a 7.2 magnitude earthquake would create widespread havoc in the metropolis.

This was bared by Sen. Loren Legarda, chairperson of the Senate climate change committee, who blamed this unpreparedness to “too much politics in this country.’’

’’What the people need most from their leaders is concrete action executed right to the grassroots level, and the onus rests on elected officials like us to lead the way by being pro-active,’’ she said.

Legarda was reacting to recent earthquakes registering between 6 and 6.9 in magnitude that hit central Chile, northern California and southern Peru over the weekend.

The California earthquake, the strongest in the last 25 years, injured numerous citizens and damaged structures, including historic buildings. It also led to six major fires, broken gas lines and water mains.

“We are just waiting for the big inland earthquake of 7.2 magnitude in Metro Manila which will be triggered by the movement of the West Valley fault. The fault, formerly known as the Marikina Valley Fault System, is ripe for such movement. It can happen next year or the succeeding year, tomorrow or today. No one can say when it will occur but the important question that must be answered is, are we prepared for the ’Big One’?’’ she asked.

“To this day, the answer remains unclear, maybe because we are not ready,’’ she added.

Legarda said that in 2004, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) released the Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study (MMEIRS).

The study, according to Legarda, revealed the impacts of a 7.2-magnitude earthquake in Metro Manila: an estimated 169,000 houses will be destroyed and 340,000 other houses will be damaged. About 35 percent of all public buildings, including schools and hospitals, city halls, fire and police stations, will be damaged.

All these structural failures will result in at least 34,000 deaths and 114,000 injuries. The ensuing fires will also result in 18,000 additional fatalities. Four thousand or 86 percent of water pipelines will break. Electricity and telephone services will be interrupted. And the whole of Metro Manila will become segregated into four sectors isolated by collapsed structures, fires and damaged roads, thereby making evacuation and emergency response difficult, she added.

In the forthcoming budget hearings, Legarda said that the Senate would examine the budget of government agencies and would ask heads of these agencies on how they have been implementing the recommendations under the MMEIRS.

Source: Manila Bulletin