More quakes to shake us more into action

October 31, 2019

The images of suffering in Davao, Cotabato and other regions in Mindanao hit by successive earthquakes that killed or injured many people, and damaged houses, buildings, roads and other structures, certainly highlight the need to be on a constant state of readiness.

The disastrous shakers ought to remind and prompt Filipinos into frenzied preparations for more shockers including the Big One that shall surely strike again anytime – but only God knows when exactly.

Yes, it’s not a question of “if” but of “when” it will strike. And tragedy may hit when least expected, just like a thief in the night.

And when a powerful earthquake – much stronger than the magnitude 7.3 that struck Luzon and caused the collapse of the ill-fated Ruby Tower in Manila where 268 people died in 1968, or stronger than the magnitude 7.2 that struck Bohol and Cebu in 2013 – finally hits Metro Manila, it could be apocalyptic doomsday: more than 35,000 deaths, half  million injuries, 500 simultaneous fires in 98,000 to 170,000 collapsed structures within 1,100 hectares, and about P2.4 trillion in damage.

That’s what geoscience says. And so does clairvoyance.

Some people hate alarmists and frown on psychic predictions, but two extensive scientific studies depicting similar grim scenarios – the Greater Metro Manila Area Risk Analysis Project funded by the Australian Agency for International Development, and the Metro Manila Impact Reduction Study – merit attention (and action) though.

The Australian project – a three-year study released in 2013 that cost Aus$5.5 million with technical support from Geoscience Australia and help from Philippine agencies like Office of Civil Defense, Mines and Geosciences Bureau, PAGASA , and Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) – showed a 7.2 magnitude quake along West Valley Fault can collapse structures within 1,100 hectares and cause 37,000 deaths and P2.4 trillion in damage.

The other study – conducted from 2002 to 2004 by Japan International Cooperation Agency, Philvocs, and Metro Manila Development Authority – also came up with similar terrifying projections.

There are repeated warnings from the country’s foremost authority on earthquakes that the inevitable could happen anytime now. Philvocs chief Renato Solidum has said that the West Valley Fault – which runs from Bulacan through Quezon City and eastern parts of Metro Manila to Laguna and Cavite – last moved around 360 years ago and the fault “moves every 400 years on average.”

And psychic Lou Andrade, who is said to have foreseen the fall of Erap from the presidency, has visualized a Metro Manila covered in darkness, with fires breaking out and floods engulfing many areas, as a result of a very powerful earthquake.

In a media forum at Manila Hotel 6 years ago, the psychic described the coming killer quake as measuring magnitude 7.6 on the Richter scale which will destroy structures along the Pasig River from Antipolo to Manila, including those of informal settlers along riverbanks, and old buildings including student dormitories in the university belt.

What should be done to heighten our state of preparedness?

Reinforcement or retrofitting must be conducted on old structures. For those to be built, government monitoring must ensure strict compliance of minimal requirements in the National Building Code and Structural Code to withstand strong tremors.

House to house inspections of structures must be undertaken to evaluate structural integrity and determine how to correct deficiencies and what kind of retrofitting is appropriate.

We must also follow lessons from Japan, the world’s foremost authority on earthquakes, where schoolchildren are trained with regular drills on how to respond to quakes, and emergency kits of drinking water, dry rations, and medical supplies are abundant in offices and many homes.

And constantly imploring protection from our ever-loving God who created our planet with all its destructive forces ought to give us peace of mind.