Campus drills prepare kids for Big One: Remember ‘Yoyo’By Tarra Quismundo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Students at Pasig Central Elementary School rushed out of their classrooms Friday morning at the sound of an alarm while holding up door mats over their heads and seeking cover.
But don’t worry. It was just a drill—one that tested their preparedness should a 7.2-magnitude earthquake hit Metro Manila, a tremor that could rock the capital anytime, according to a study.
Emergency response agencies and education officials held simultaneous drills in some 43,000 public elementary and high schools nationwide for a quarterly check on how they would handle the Big One.
“We don’t know when it will happen but we have to do it not just quarterly but regularly. We don’t know when this calamity will strike,” said Benito Ramos, administrator of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
“That’s why you have to remember ‘Yoyo.’ If the quake reaches an intensity that our buildings can no longer handle, ‘you’re on your own.’ All you have to do is to save yourself. As soon as the situation stabilizes, then save others if there are still survivors,” Ramos told reporters.
In Metro Manila schools, the drill tested a scenario of a 7.2-magnitude earthquake, which could hit the capital anytime, according to the 2004 Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study.
The study particularly looked into the damage that the movement of the West Valley Fault could cause in the metropolis. The West Valley Fault cuts through Rizal province and the cities of Marikina, Quezon, Pasig, Makati and Taguig.
Using population and building density data at the time of the study, Director Renato Solidum of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), said an earthquake that strong could cause heavy damage on at least 100,000 homes and mid-rise buildings, injure at least 100,000 people, and leave up to 33,500 dead.
Phivolcs is undertaking a new study to update the 2004 project and assess the impact of the fault’s movement also on provinces close to Metro Manila like Rizal, Laguna and Bulacan, Solidum said.
“The Big One is yet to come, a quake so strong that it could cause all buildings around us to collapse. This is not to scare you, but we saw what happened in March 2011, when a 9.0 quake hit Fukushima, Japan,” Defense Secretary and NDRRMC Chair Voltaire Gazmin told the students.
Gazmin noted that many schools still lack open spaces that could be used as evacuation areas.
“Surely, you cannot increase the school’s area. What we can do is devise a plan that would address the immediate and orderly evacuation of the students,” Gazmin said.