MANILA – Over 30,000 people in Metro Manila and nearby areas could die should a massive earthquake triggered by the movement of the Valley Fault System occur, an expert said.
Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) executive director Renato Solidum said the latest Phivolcs and Geoscience Australia study revealed that as many as 31,000 people could die should a quake of at least magnitude 7.2 hit the metro.
Solidum, in an interview on dzMM, said this figure was arrived at based on a night-time quake scenario, when most people are already in their homes, sleeping.
He said this figure is almost similar to a Phivolcs, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) study which estimated that there will be 34,000 fatalities and 113,600 injuries in case the so-called ''The Big One'' occurs.
Solidum said this large number of fatalities may happen if the government and public will not do any risk reduction and mitigation measures.
He said precautionary measures such as earthquake drills and retrofitting of vulnerable structures will help in preventing deaths.
He noted that a majority of the deaths will be caused by collapsed structures. The fatalities projected in the studies do not take into account other causes of deaths which may occur after an earthquake, such as fires and electrocution.
''Thirty thousand plus ang mamamatay. Ito ay kailangan nating tugunan. Maliban sa drill eh kailangang maayos ang mga bahay at building na mahina. Kapag naayos natin ito, kaunti lang ang mamatay,'' Solidum told dzMM.
Phivolcs earlier said that about 168,300 residential buildings may be heavily damaged and 339,800 partly damaged if a magnitude 7.2 earthquake from the West Valley Fault hits the country.
WEST VALLEY FAULT
For years, Phivolcs has been warning that a massive quake could happen in this lifetime as the 100-kilometer Valley Fault System is already ripe for another movement.
The fault runs through various cities and provinces, including Bulacan, Quezon City, Marikina, Pasig, Makati, Taguig. Muntinlupa, Rizal, Cavite, and Laguna.
Solidum said the fault movement has an occurrence interval of 400 to 600 years. The last time the fault moved and triggered a quake was in 1658.
Solidum said today's metro-wide earthquake drill should just be the beginning of the many public preparations for The Big One.
He said Filipinos, who live in an archipelago embedded in the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, must make quake readiness a part of their daily lives.
''Sa lahat ng bayan, sa buong Pilipinas, ang isla ng Palawan lang ang hindi inaasahang tamaan ng malakas na lindol,'' he said.
''Dapat atin nang alam, automatic na na kapag nakaranas tayo ng lindol eh mag-'drop, cover and hold' tayo."
Solidum said he hopes that a future major quake drill will also include areas outside Metro Manila.
He said an Intensity 8 quake triggered by a quake with an epicenter located in the easternmost portion of Manila will shake structures in most parts of Bulacan, westernmost part of Rizal, and northernmost part of Cavite and Laguna.