By Catherine J. Teves
MANILA, July 31 (PNA) — An international expert raised urgency for fast-tracking nationwide retrofitting or strengthening of structures likely to collapse during earthquakes, noting this disaster risk reduction (DRR) measure – not disaster response – will spell the life-saving difference when these tremors strike the country.
“It’s important to look into risk reduction as response has very limited contribution to saving lives,” said international DRR expert and advisor Manny de Guzman, citing outcome of past earthquake disasters.
He noted such disasters show a number of earthquake victims rescued alive from rubble eventually died while being treated, increasing the death toll from tremors.
In contrast, he said non-collapse of structurally sound structures during earthquakes helped save people from being pinned down to death by rubble.
“We can do much to reduce the number of earthquake-damaged structures as well as dead and injured casualties,” he said.
This week, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) spearheaded the first earthquake drill across Metro Manila, the country’s top urban center.
De Guzman lauded government for such activity.
Aside from undertaking similar drills in the future, however, de Guzman noted Metro Manila must already fast-track retrofitting its buildings, bridges and other structures as authorities reported the Valley Fault System (VFS) traversing this megalopolis can generate a major earthquake in this area.
Authorities also said such earthquake can occur during the present generation’s lifetime so retrofitting must be fast-tracked already, he continued.
“It’s one way to reduce casualties,” he said.
There’s more chance for people trapped in buildings to survive even if these structures sustain damage from earthquakes but don’t collapse, he noted.
He said authorities must assess structural integrity of structures particularly those built 20 years ago and earlier so corresponding interventions can be undertaken.
Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said West Valley Fault (WVF) and East Valley Fault comprise VFS.
As early as 2004, the study ‘Earthquake Impact Reduction Study for Metropolitan Manila’ by government and Japan International Cooperation Agency cited VFS as being able to “potentially cause the largest impact to the Metropolitan Manila area should it generate a large maximum earthquake.”
A number of researches indicate the Valley Faults are approaching the active phases and can generate earthquakes of magnitude 7.0 or more., noted the study
The study also warned of a worst case scenario in which an estimated 170,000 residential houses will collapse if WVF generates a magnitude 7.2 earthquake.
Such earthquake will cause an estimated 340,000 residential houses to be partly damaged and result in some 34,000 persons dead and 114,000 people injured, the study added.(PNA)