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Power quake simulated in Subic to gauge gov’t response

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 13:43:00 04/16/2008

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, Philippines — (UPDATE) The Philippines is prepared to respond to a powerful earthquake, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said, after disaster officials simulated a strong one here on Wednesday.

Organized by the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), this year’s International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) Asia Pacific earthquake simulation exercise was the biggest ever, with 270 participants from 18 countries and 52 organizations, Glen Rabonza of the Office of Civil Defense Administration said.

The simulation involved a 7.2-magnitude earthquake caused by the movement of the Marikina faultline, which was projected to damage an estimated 38 percent of 1.3 million structures in Metro Manila, Rabonza said.

“Institutionally, we are well prepared to handle any situation and the main purpose of this exercise actually is to integrate help also coming from international communities because it creates sometimes a logistical problem to coordinate all these efforts,” Teodoro told reporters on the second day of the three-day INSARAG.

“On this end we are refining those protocols, the procedures we have to undertake. We will process donors,” said Teodoro, also chairman of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC).

“I asked also the NDCC to give us a checklist of what to do at our level in case something happens, and we will practice these scenarios constantly, we will refine them,” he said.

The movement of the Marikina fault last caused an earthquake with a magnitude of close to 7.0 about 200 years ago, said Philippine Institute of Vulcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) Director Renato Solidum.

The last four times that the fault moved happened between intervals of 200-400 years, said Solidum.

But despite the apparent pattern, Solidum said science could not predict when an earthquake would happen.

Solidum said that an earthquake’s magnitude was different from its intensity. Magnitude is the earthquake’s strength from undergound, while intensity is the measure of how it is felt on the surface.

A 7.2-magnitude earthquake can produce as much as intensity 9. The intensity weakens the deeper the earth’s the tremor is, he said.

Among others, the drill measured the response time of disaster officials coming from the airport. The Subic Bay international airport was used in the drill, Rabonza said.

Teodoro said he was also informed during the simulation that the first 96 hours after a building collapse was critical in saving human lives.

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Written by joelguinto

WedUTC2008-04-16T12:25:01+00:00UTC04bUTCWed, 16 Apr 2008 12:25:01 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm04

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