Manila preps for tsunami, Makati for total blackout
A tsunami hurtling toward Manila Bay can generate waves up to two stories high and submerge the city up to 4 to 5 kilometers inland. This means that areas like the University of Santo Tomas campus on España Boulevard, already flood-prone as it is, will be inundated within minutes, this time by debris and sea water.
This is one of the worst-case scenarios that the Manila city government will use when it holds its first citywide disaster drill next Wednesday, an activity made urgent by the 5.7-magnitude earthquake that hit the capital and other parts of Luzon on the night of June 25.
“We will create worst-case scenarios using disaster imagination to test the disaster preparedness and contingency plans of establishments,” Johnny Yu, head of the Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, said in a press briefing Friday at the newly opened command center inside city hall.
More than half of the establishments in Manila, including hotels, schools and hospitals, are expected to join the drill, which is being held in line with National Disaster Consciousness Month.
In the morning, the first scenario will be an earthquake caused by the movement of the West Valley fault line. The drill would test the city officials’ preparedness for fires and road accidents.
Citing a study conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency from 2000 to 2004, Yu said a magnitude 7.2 earthquake could result in 300,000 collapsed structures and 500,000 casualties in Metro Manila alone. “Land use has increased so we’re looking at double or triple that number,” he said.
The second scenario, which will be applied in the afternoon, will be based on a quake and tsunami triggered by the movement of the Manila Trench.
“Should it move according to (projections made by) Phivolcs (Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology), we will issue a tsunami advisory and we will have one hour to evacuate the area,” Yu said.
National and regional evaluators will file a report on the disaster drills with the Bureau of Fire Protection. Establishments without contingency plans will first be issued a warning, but “if they don’t create a plan within the prescribed period, they will not be given business permits next year,” Yu said.
The city government currently has more than 20 emergency responders on standby, as well as disaster response equipment that include rescue boats, amphibious vehicles, rescue vans and portable heavy-duty lighting systems.
Street activity during disasters can be monitored by city hall through closed circuit television cameras and accessed by the public through the recently launched Go Manila app, Vice Mayor Isko Moreno said during the same briefing.
“There’s a challenge in livestreaming during bad weather. But what’s important is you’ll have a visual of an actual scenario, be it traffic, flood or accident,” he said.
In Makati City, the local government will suspend operations this Monday afternoon also for an earthquake drill.
In a statement Friday, city hall advised the public that it would suspend work on June 30 from 1 p.m. onward, as a mass evacuation drill would involve power shutdowns in all local government offices to simulate a tremor-induced blackout.
Several streets would also be closed for the drills, namely Cardona, Angono and F. Zobel, from the corner of Osmeña Highway to the corner of J. P. Rizal; Hormiga, from the corner of Angono to Antipolo; and Buencamino, Ma. Aurora, and Zenaida.
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