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Preparing for the ‘Big One’

June 4, 2015

Sen.Loren Legarda calls on disaster management agencies and local government units to prepare for the Big One.

The United Nations Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific, issued the statement following the launch of the Phivolcs’ Valley Fault System Atlas, a handbook containing detailed and updated map of areas traversed by two major faults in the Greater Metro Manila Area — the East Valley Fault and West Valley Fault.

“We have to use the information in this new handbook to update earthquake risk reduction programs both in the national and local levels. 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 quakes,” she stressed.

Legarda also emphasized 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 pm chime” or the “Municipal Disaster Management Radio Communication Network” of Minato City in Japan wherein at 5 o’clock in the afternoon, the instrumental version of the Japanese folk song “Yuyaku Koyake” is heard in speakers all around the city.

The daily “5 pm 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.

“We also need to have this kind of early warning system in the country, so that wherever people are they are informed of important announcements especially in emergency situations such as before, during and after disasters, thereby reducing risks, casualties and damages,” Legarda said.

Legarda said ensuring the structural integrity of buildings and preparedness measures for earthquakes can significantly reduce the impacts projected in the 2004 Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study (MMEIRS), which revealed 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: Philstar