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Metro-wide earthquake drill proposed by MMDA

/ 10:00 PM May 27, 2015

IN TERMS of earthquake preparedness, Metro Manila can be rated below 5 in a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the highest), according to Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chair Francis Tolentino.

The MMDA chair said the entire metropolis has been lacking rescue equipment, funding, manpower and resources for the “big one.”

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In an interview with members of the media on Tuesday afternoon, Tolentino highlighted the importance of having a metrowide earthquake drill, which the agency initially set on July 30. The MMDA chair said he submitted a draft of the executive order on the drill to Malacañang last Monday.

Tolentino earlier said that the proposed metrowide drill, which would simulate the effects of a 7.2 magnitude quake would be from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. During the metrowide drill, power supply and telecommunication lines will be shut down and traffic lights will stop functioning, which may cause vehicles to get stranded on road. The scenario would also result in the suspension of work and classes.

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“We need actual simulation to feel the real effects of the disaster,” explained the MMDA Chair.

In case of an emergency during the simulation, Tolentino said ambulances would be ready to respond.

He added that this would test the capabilities of nearby provinces like Rizal, Batangas, Laguna to respond to Metro Manila in case of a strong quake. Tolentino said that the metro is not yet that ready for the effects of a strong quake like the collapse of buildings and the expected number of fatalities and injured individuals.

“Unlike typhoons, we cannot evacuate people before an earthquake,” Tolentino said noting that there might not be enough preparation for this disaster.

The MMDA chair, however, said that the agency had in place the earthquake response plan dubbed Oplan Metro Yakal. It identified four possible evacuation areas in Metro Manila in case of a strong quake, which would include the Veteran’s golf course in Quezon City, Villamor golf course in Pasay City, the Wack Wack golf course in Mandaluyong City and the Intramuros golf course in Manila.

He also said that preparing for a strong earthquake would entail the collective efforts from the entire Metro Manila especially from the leaders of the 72 barangays (villages) in the cities of Pasig, Quezon, Marikina, Makati, Taguig and Muntinlupa which lay on the West Valley Fault.

The MMDA will meet on Thursday (May 28) with the leaders of the barangay (villages) along the fault line to discuss contingency measures on ground zero, according to Tolentino. The agency will also launch the mobile earthquake house which will start making rounds around the metro on June 2.

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The earthquake simulator is a hydraulically operated facility resembling a bungalow house. It has a living room inside and a classroom-like setup. The house can simulate seismic movements similar to a magnitude 4 to 8 earthquake. Similar to the one used by Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) experts, MMDA’s earthquake house measures 3 x 3.6 meters and can accommodate up to 10 people.

“On June 2, we will also have a Metro Manila Rescue Skills Olympics of the 17 local government units (LGUs) for them to showcase their readiness in case a quake hits the metropolis. It will not be equipment-based but skills-based,” he added.

The agency said a strong movement, possibly equivalent to a magnitude 7.2, from the fault could happen and kill more than 30,000 people based on Phivolcs studies. With a report by Ariana Michaela Lopez, intern/SFM/ABC

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TAGS: Disaster preparedness, Earthquake, earthquake drill, East Valley Fault, Francis Tolentino, Metro Manila, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, MMDA, News, West Valley Fault
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