Manila tests readiness for killer quakes, waves
“Chaos” broke out on Roxas Boulevard on Wednesday morning as people poured out of buildings and rescue teams in full gear sprang into action to see how the city of Manila would respond to killer waves or earthquakes.
Grim scenarios played out on the road as part of the local government’s first citywide “multi-disaster” drill, which aimed to test the private establishments in the area and their readiness for such calamities, according to Johnny Yu, head of the Manila City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office.
The drill, which was conducted from TM Kalaw Street to Quirino Avenue, involved about 500 rescuers from the Bureau of Fire Protection as well from community and private rescue groups. A total of 5,000 people took part from establishments in the Manila Bay area alone.
The earthquake drill started around 9:30 a.m., with Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chair Francis Tolentino and other officials pressing a button that sent sirens blaring to signal the beginning of a 7.2-magnitude earthquake.
“When an earthquake strikes, it’s not only the quake that you have to prepare for. Expect a domino effect. You will have buildings collapsing, structures catching fire, traffic accidents happening and hazardous materials leaking out,” Yu said.
At one point, rescuers in neon yellow suits responded to a simulated traffic accident wherein a truck carrying dangerous chemicals crashed into a bus, spilling its toxic cargo on the road and on the bus passengers.
But Yu stressed that on top of the emergency procedures, an information campaign should be conducted among ordinary residents.
“That’s our weakness in disaster preparedness. Based on the initial feedback we got, about 40 percent of Manila residents don’t know what they need to do during an earthquake,” he said.
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