In the aftermath of the 7.7-magnitude earthquake that shook Guiuan, Eastern Samar and prompted tsunami alerts for six provinces in the Philippines and at least four other countries, Senator Loren Legarda today renewed her call for greater vigilance through stronger earthquake preparedness efforts.
The Senator said that after the provinces in Visayas and Mindanao experienced the strong earthquake, residents of Luzon, particularly in Metro Manila, should prepare for such strong temblor too, noting the findings in the 2004 Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study (MMEIRS).
“The MMEIRS revealed high casualties and massive destruction should a 7.2-magnitude earthquake hit Metro Manila. The study also contains priority actions that should have been undertaken 3-6 years after the study was publicized to reduce the impacts of such a strong tremor,” she pointed out.
Based on the MMEIRS, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake in Metro Manila would cause the destruction of 40% of the residential buildings, damage 35% of all public buildings, kill 34,000 people, injure 114,000 individuals, and the ensuing fires will also result in 18,000 additional fatalities.
Legarda explained that among the priority steps that must be undertaken include the promotion of disaster-resilient urban development; ensuring the structural integrity of buildings and critical infrastructure; formulating emergency supply system of water, food and other necessities; and determining open spaces for safe refuge when tremors occur.
“We must also ensure that there are back-up systems of vital utilities such as electricity and telecommunications equipment, which are necessary for post-disaster efforts,” she said.
She also stated that local authorities and community leaders must enable citizens to respond quickly to earthquakes by giving them knowledge of what to do before, during, and after such disasters, and that every barangay must craft an evacuation plan and conduct regular evacuation drills that would help citizens find out the fastest and safest way to reach open spaces and other safe areas.
“Disaster prevention is a tall order, but it is one well worth the investment. We must prepare ourselves for more frequent natural hazards, keeping in mind that it is only through effective preventive measures that we can save lives,” Legarda concluded.***