INSOFAR as the imminent occurrence of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake referred to as “The Big One” is concerned, a top official of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) makes a sweeping claim that the Philippines is more prepared now than twenty years ago or so.
The basis of Phivolcs Director Teresito Bacolcol? The government’s ability to conduct a quarterly earthquake drill in government offices and public schools.
However, some experts find it too premature to make a sweeping claim as the lack of preparedness and failure to enforce zoning laws and building standards still hounds what has been aptly described as a horrifying scenario.
Data collated by the Pacific Strategies and Assessments, a multinational firm engaged in intelligence gathering for business and security, sees the possibility of recording close to 60,000 deaths (34,000 people dead on the spot and 24,000 expiring underneath the rubble) – plus 110,000 injuries, the moment “The Big One” hits Metro Manila and its adjoining areas.
An earthquake of such magnitude, according to separate research conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), hinted at an economic doom as Metro Manila will be reduced from a bustling region to ground zero.
In fairness, the Philippine government initially did its part by conducting its own study which included a list of apocalyptic scenarios aside from the unimaginable number of fatalities that such a tremor would bring.
The study produced terrifying forecasts – collapse of at least 117,000 homes rendering 1.2 million people homeless, damage in major government facilities (hospitals, schools, government offices, etc), cut in utilities (power, water, communications and internet), closure of vital installations (airports, bridges, roads, etc.), and among many other possibilities.
“While earthquakes are a global and natural phenomenon that can hit any city without warning, there are both openly declared and unspoken reasons why Metro Manila… is particularly vulnerable,” reads a part of the report by the Philippine Statistics Authority.
Among the reasons cited by the PSA included unreliable infrastructure system, poor building standards due to corruption in the construction and inspection process, the sprawling communities located in danger zones, and the supposed lack of government resources and coordination.
In short, quarterly earthquake drills doesn’t mean we’re prepared.
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