Weeks after the devastating quake that destroyed communities in Nepal, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) warned citizens that the Philippines’ West Valley Fault Line is ripe to cause a large, destructive quake that can threaten several cities in the country’s capital region and the regions beside it .
According to Phivolcs, the West Valley Fault Line moves around every 400 years, the last incident occurring 357 years ago. The government institute is predicting a 7.2 magnitude quake that can prove to be devastating, and has the potential to cripple Metro Manila. With the region being one of the most populous areas in the world, the potential casualty count can be alarming.
Phivolcs concluded that the worst case scenario for the earthquake to occur is on a weekday or in the evening, due to residential buildings being unequipped to stand powerful earthquakes. Recently, the institute released an app as well as informational materials to make the public aware of the whats, wheres, hows, and whys of the West Valley Fault line and earthquakes in general.
Fault line lies underneath Mega Manila
Recently, the government released the West Valley Fault Atlas to give citizens a detailed map on exactly where the Fault Line lies. With the atlas, citizens can discover whether or not their home is located directly on the fault line. Phivolcs says that every building or house within the 5 kilometer radius of the fault line will feel the direct damage of the earthquake.
The West Valley Fault is underneath ten major areas in Mega Manila: Quezon City, Marikina, Makati, Pasig, Taguig, Muntinlupa, Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, and Cavite. While not completely affected, parts of Rizal, Laguna, Cavite, and Bulacan will still feel the full impact when the West Valley Fault moves. In Bulacan, Dona Remedios Trinidad, Norzagaray, and San Jose Del Monte City will still be directly affected by the quake. In Rizal, only Rodriguez will be impacted by the quake. In Laguna, San Pedro City, Binan, Sta. Rosa, Cabuyao, and Calamba, are within the area of effect of the West Valley Fault line. And in Cavite, Carmona, General Mariano Alvarez, and Silang, will fully feel the strength of the earthquake.
Potential damage and casualties will reach startling numbers
In 2004, Phivolcs and the Japan International Cooperation Agency made a detailed study on the potential scenario of Metro Manila should a powerful earthquake occur. The study, Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study (MMEIRs), has numbers which paint a disturbing picture. “Disaster ” will be an understatement should the 7.2 magnitude earthquake occur soon.
According to government agencies, the quake alone can cause a death toll that reaches an estimate of 33,500. This does not count deaths that can occur due to events in the aftermath, such as fire, starvation, collapsing buildings, and illnesses. Aside from the death toll, Phivolcs revealed that the earthquake can displace 3.15 million people.
Collapsing structures will cause a majority of deaths, as many buildings and structures are poorly built when it comes to withstanding powerful quakes.
Aside from collapsing structures, fires caused by damaged and tangled electrical wires can cause a great number of casualties. Those living in slums are particularly vulnerable, as many electrical connections in those areas are fragile and illegally made.
Several parts of Metro Manila may also be cut from the capital’s water supply. The Angat Dam, which supplies Metro Manila’s water supply, is also located along the danger zone, and thus can become damaged should the West Valley Fault line generate a powerful earthquake.
Softening the blow of the earthquake
While the worst case scenarios describe a grim, almost apocalyptic future for those within Mega Manila, Phivolcs says that there are several ways to at least lessen the damage of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake.
The most important priority for citizens is to ensure that their homes have been designed to withstand disasters. Whether or not your home is located within the danger zone, it is still important to double-check if the structure strictly follows the building code. Phivolcs has a 12-point checklist prepared to determine whether a house or a building is built sufficiently. If you find that your house may not be “earthquake-ready,” you need to contact a construction expert to remedy the situation.
In addition, it is also important to create a pre-emptive plan for dealing with earthquakes. Create and practice an earthquake drill with your own family in preparation for the quake. Identify which places or areas you can immediately run to when the earthquake strikes, and know when and where to go in the aftermath.