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Pasig, Makati and QC express readiness for possible 7.2 magnitude quake

According to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, historical records show that Metro Manila’s West Valley Fault is due for a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that would leave in its aftermath at least 31,000 dead and at least over 126,000 seriously injured.

MANILA, Philippines - The cities of Pasig, Makati and Quezon City have expressed readiness for a possible 7.2-magnitude earthquake to be generated by the West Valley Fault.

Representatives from the three local government units on Wednesday revealed their respective disaster response plans during the Earthquake Resilience Conference in Makati City which was organized by the Carlos Romulo Foundation, the Manila Observatory and the Zuellig Family Foundation.

According to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), historical records show that Metro Manila’s West Valley Fault is due for a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that would leave in its aftermath at least 31,000 dead and at least over 126,000 seriously injured.

Phivolcs added that such an earthquake would also leave P2.23 trillion in economic damage with and additional 18,000 people dead from the estimated 500 fires to be triggered by the tremor across the metro.

The conference was organized to review Metro Manila’s current state of earthquake preparedness with the aim of developing a common contingency plan.

Richie Angeles, chief of Pasig City’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (DRRMO), said that in the immediate aftermath of a 7.2-magnitude quake, the Pasig City government will allow city government personnel to first attend to their families in the next four hours.

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After the first four hours, the city government will then restore communication by setting-up a satellite-based emergency mobile network (EMN) that will restore mobile phone communication within a 3-kilometer radius.

After restoring communication, the Pasig City government would then dispatch small and mobile “strike teams” to perform search and rescue operations.

The city police would also then be ordered by the Pasig City mayor to secure the markets and gasoline stations.

Angeles said the police response would help prevent looting of markets and gas stations. He said valuable fuel would be rationed off to residents. Police would also control the number of vehicles on the roads to give responding emergency vehicles enough room to maneuver.

The Pasig City government would also deploy six field emergency hospitals that could each be set-up within just five minutes.

In addition, the Pasig City government would also install three water treatment machines on the banks of the Pasig River to deliver drinking water. Angeles said the machines could produce 27,000 liters of safe drinking water per hour.

Angeles said the city’s emergency action plan would be implemented within the first 72 hours following the earthquake. To further hone the city’s earthquake response skills, a night earthquake drill would be staged at the city’s Ortigas business district on July 18.

Meanwhile, Hector Reyes, head of Makati City’s DRRMO said the city where Metro Manila’s central business hub is located, will immediately activate the “Makati Task Force Urban Search and Rescue “ (TF-USAR) which is tasked to conduct the needed search and rescue operations.

Reyes said TF-USAR would be coordinating with the city’s Makati Rescue Unit, city fire department, city health department, Makati K9, Ospital ng Makati as well as barangay responders.

TF-USAR, said Reyes, is a technical search team trained to use search cameras and acoustic (listening) devices for rescue operations in areas with difficult access and poor visibility.

Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista meanwhile said the city of 3 million residents has learned from the experiences of other megacities under the earthquake megacities initiative.

As part of Quezon City’s earthquake preparation, Bautista said the city government has began retrofitting old city pubic buildings before they reach 50 years.

Bautista said he has already ordered the retrofitting of the 47-year old Quezon City Hall before it turns 50 years old. Bautista said the National Heritage Law forbids the retrofitting of public buildings that are already 50 years old.

“I hope the national government consider retrofitting all these public buildings. I know they have priorities but I would like to caution them. Sabi nga ni Dr. (Phivolcs director Renato) Solidum anytime to (earthquake), anytime to pwede mangyari. So, I hope the national government retrofits all our public infrastructures,” he said.

Aside from government buildings, Bautista said the Quezon City government will also retrofit the city’s 30 bridges that connect it with other parts of Metro Manila.

Bautista added that the city government has began relocating residents who are living near the West Valley Fault, including large urban poor settler communities. The city government has also identified six open spaces in the city where displaced residents could find temporary shelter in the aftermath of a 7.2-magnitude quake.

Bautista identified these large open areas as: the Neopolitan/SM parking area in District 5, the Centris open space area in District 6, the Veterans Memorial Golf Course in District 1, the Acsibal open space in Barangay Batasan (District 2), the UP Diliman campus and Camp Aguinaldo compound in District 3, and the Amoranto Sports Complex in District IV.

Meanwhile, Bautista said the Quezon City government is also now purchasing emergency tents and water treatment equipment that will be used in the earthquake’s aftermath.

According to a report by the Quezon City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hitting the city would leave 102,971 structures collapsed or damaged, some 18,782 fatalities, some 76,863 persons injured, and at least 68,619 families displaced and homeless. - with reports from Irish Matito and Mariel Atuan

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