March 15, 2011

Will we survive a major earthquake?

THE news and images from Japan after it was hit by a massive earthquake then a tsunami continue to trouble us. Of course, this again brings up the question if we would survive an earthquake of such a proportion if it happens here in the Philippines, specifically Metro Manila.

In 2004, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, which is one of the most generous sources of grants for the Philippines, made a study along with the Metro Manila Development Authority and Philippine Volcanology and Seismology on what areas are most vulnerable to earthquakes. The study found that an earthquake of 7.2 magnitude would damage 38% of residential buildings, 38% of mid-rise buildings (below 30 stories), and 14% of high-rise buildings (30-60 stories).

The following is an executive summary of the study:

Earthquake Impact Reduction Study for Metro Manila 2004

As per the letter of Architect Jun Palafox included in above document, he recommends 60 measures to mitigate the impact from potential disasters like an earthquake, tidal wave (tsunami), and other natural calamities. These include drawing up of disaster preparedness/crisis response plans, preparation of hazard maps, securing open spaces, creation of disaster-proof zones, designation of evacuation sites, to name a few.

Architect Palafox first sent his recommendations to former President Arroyo, after the Typhoon Ondoy disaster in Sept. 2009, but I suppose with so few months left in her term, no action was taken on Palafox's recommendations. He again sent the above document to President Noynoy Aquino right after he got elected, but according to Boo Chanco's column, Architect Palafox has yet to receive a response from Malacañang. (Many thanks to Mr. Chanco for sending us a copy of the study and Palafox's recommendations.)

Let's hope this Japan tragedy spurs our gov't leaders, esp. PNoy, to take action on these recommendations.

Btw, for those seeking more info on the Japan earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, click the Google Crisis Response site here.

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