AT least seven million people are expected to participate in the Metro Manila-wide simultaneous earthquake drill set for Thursday, the chief of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said on Tuesday.
The massive drill was organized to raise public awareness on disaster preparedness, particularly against powerful earthquakes one which government seismologists say may happen anytime because of expected movement of the West Valley Fault.
The West Valley Fault runs through Metro Manila (National Capital Region o rNCR), Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite and Laguna.
Prominent architect and urban planner Felino Palafox Jr, in earlier interview, said should a 7.2-magnitude earthquake strike Metro Manila, bridges would collapse and thousands of kilometers of road would break down.
Power, water and phone lines, according to him, would probably be cut.
Palafox, a columnist of The Manila Times, said about 50,000 people would get killed instantly.
Leader of a World Bank team that conducted a study 40 years ago on the impact of a West Valley Fault-triggered temblor, he supports the earthquake drill initiative, which he described as “long overdue.”
MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said the number of participants is still growing, adding that they have secured 100 percent participation of establishments in NCR’s Central Business Districts (CBDs).
In the Ayala (Makati City) CBD alone, the MMDA expects 50,000 people to join the drill.
Two weeks ago, Tolentino said, the agency recorded 222,000 participants but as the date of the drill draws nearer, the number of registrants reached 772,708.
“So we are expecting at least seven million participants in the drill,” he told reporters after meeting with Metro Manila mayors as well as police and military officials.
The drill, which covers 16 cities and one town of NCR, will start at 10:30 a.m. and will last for an hour on Thursday, July 30.
To signal the start of the drill, sirens will blare, church bells will peal, and fire alarms will go off.
Under the MMDA’s plan, Metro Manila will be divided into four evacuation areas: Intramuros golf course in the west, Veterans Memorial Medical Center golf course in the north, Light Rail Transit 2 depot in the east and Villamor Air Base golf course in the south.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) also on Tuesday started holding table-top exercises to test the government’s preparedness in responding to mass-casualty emergencies.
“All of our inputs were used in this simulation. It is important that we focus on the four quadrant exercises to test the ability of our responders based on our formula,” NDRRMC Executive Director Alexander Pama said.
Four drills using the 7.2 quake scenario have been conducted since last year at Roxas Boulevard (west), Quezon Memorial Circle (north), Marikina City (east) and Bonifacio Global City (south).
“This activity is [meant]to validate the preparations we have made and if [they match]the earthquake plan of the Metro Manila Development Authority. If there are shortcomings, then we will look for ways for them to improve the MMDA quake drill,” Pama said.