Unnatural feeling
THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - April 24, 2019 - 12:00am

The initial shock of the ground moving beneath you is unavoidable. Even if one knows what to do in the event of an earthquake, that momentary pause or immobility overwhelms you once the shaking starts. It is just an unnatural feeling. A magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck Luzon last Monday afternoon. According to the Phivolcs Earthquake Information website, the epicenter was located at Castillejos, Zambales. The earthquake was “shallow but powerful”, lasting almost 10 seconds.

Damage assessment is ongoing, but Pampanga bore the brunt of it, nearing a state of calamity. So far the death toll is at 15, with the frantic search for survivors or victims ongoing. The Clark International Airport was closed due to structural damage to the terminal. Flight operations are also cancelled.

A church in Porac was also damaged. Portions of the SCTEX have been blocked to traffic because of large cracks and elevated portions. All three Metro Manila trains were temporarily halted. Most office employees were sent home. Schools also cancelled classes up to Tuesday.

Government work was also cancelled for Tuesday. NAIA officials announced that operations continue, and that the terminals and runways sustained no damage. It is amazing that there are no reports of casualties or damage at the epicenter of the quake. Even the roads are open.

Phivolcs is just calling this a minor but powerful quake. Magnitude 4 was felt in Quezon City. I cannot imagine what 6.1 felt like, if a 4 already rattled my senses. The shaking seemed to go on forever. I was so concerned about the safety of my twins.

Aftershocks are naturally expected, but I sure hope they are much weaker. The Philippines is part of the “Ring of Fire”, countries on top of active fault lines and volcanic activity around the Pacific. Most earthquakes are imperceptible, but once in a while, a big movement reminds mankind of who is in control.

Luzon sits on top of several active fault lines, scarring the terrain. One can know the locations of these fault lines on the Phivolcs website. Many warnings have been made regarding a major quake that would devastate Metro Manila. Some say that most of the infrastructure is not earthquake-proof.

Hopefully the newer buildings were built with this in mind. Cities like Tokyo and San Francisco always keep this in mind. I constantly pray for a powerful quake not to happen. In 1990, a magnitude 7.9 earthquake struck Luzon. It killed more than 1,600 people and caused massive destruction in Cabanatuan, Dagupan, La Union, and Baguio.

We all remember the total destruction of the Hyatt Terraces Hotel in Baguio where 80 guests and staff were killed. Metro Manila was not spared the death and destruction. But that's just one of the many powerful earthquakes to hit the country. Let’s all hope and pray that history does not add another one.


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