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Two cities

In the past 2 months, we have seen how two cities have been struck by one of nature’s most powerful natural forces. The earth is always in constant motion, with plates the size of continents inching towards each other, hoping to gain the upper ground. And when one gives, we have an earthquake.

It remains one of nature’s occurrences that is still unpredictable. All we can do is measure and ride it out when it happens, hoping for the best that we survive whatever damage is brought upon us.

There is no argument that an earthquake of magnitude 7 upwards results in widespread devastation and destruction. But what we have seen in the earthquakes of Port-au-Prince, Haiti and Conception, Chile is a study in earthquake preparation and preparedness.

The Haitian tremor resulted in widespread destruction, hundreds of thousands of deaths and over a million homeless. No surprise there as the country is poor, with only basic infrastructure for basic services. I wouldn’t be surprised if there weren’t any building codes enforced, and emergency and rescue services were less than adequate. The number of casualties, injured and homeless attests to the kind of destruction an earthquake of this magnitude can bring.

Concepcion, Chile. An 8.8 magnitude earthquake hits this coastal city, the second most populated in Chile. It is a thousand times more powerful than the Haitian quake. Tsunami warnings are issued to more than fifty countries that line the Pacific rim, from as near as Hawaii, USA to as far as Russia, Japan and the Philippines.

But as of this writing, 300 have been confirmed dead, with hundreds injured. A far cry from the stats from the Haitian quake, considering this tremor was a thousand times stronger.

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That’s because Chile is no stranger to powerful earthquakes, and the latest in earthquake building technology incorporated in the construction of buildings and structures have paid off. They were prepared. Buildings were still toppled and damaged, but the city was not flattened. The comparatively low number of deaths attests to that.

It also proves how being prepared does pay. If only we were prepared for the floods that Ondoy and Pepeng brought, if only we are prepared form the current drought, then we wouldn’t have the high statistics we have in terms of deaths, injuries and losses.

The whole world is shaking. Are we prepared just in case our number comes up?

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