Anything can happen at any time of the day. One moment you’re going through the day as planned: attending a class, having lunch with your classmates, and studying for an exam, and then just out of the blue, a whopping 7.0-magnitude earthquake hits Davao City and everyone ends up panicking.
The 7.0-magnitude earthquake can possibly strike at any time of any day, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), as published in several online sources in the last few months.
Earlier this year, after updating fault maps, PHIVOLCS reported that several new cracks were discovered in Mati City along with the other regions in the province of Compostella Valley. These new cracks were created by a known fault line that is estimated to be 320 kilometers long called the Surigao-Mati fault line.
The cracks could be part of the 1,200-kilometer long Philippine fault zone – which is “a major tectonic feature that transects the whole Philippine archipelago from northwestern Luzon to southeastern Mindanao,” according to PHIVOLCS.
The 1,200-kilometer Philippine fault zone, according to the PHIVOLCS website, “…has been the source of large-magnitude earthquake in recent years, such as the 1973 Ragay Gulf earthquake (M 7.0), 1990 Luzon earthquake (M 7.7), and 2003 Masbate earthquake (M 6.2).”
The new fault lines render Davao City and surrounding regions vulnerable to earthquakes that could possibly reach 7 or higher on the Richter scale. PHIVOLCS further reported that if an 8.3-magnitude quake hits a sea near the areas where the new cracks were discovered, a tsunami can possibly occur and leave a devastating mark.
Indeed, Davao City has a great emergency response team with similar systems used in Canada and the United States, but it will only be of use after the damage has been done. Having an active emergency response team will not be enough if buildings are not constructed in accordance with the required rules and regulations and it will also not be enough if people do not have the proper knowledge and attitude in times of disaster.
As to construction of buildings, developers are urged to follow the National Building Code of the Philippines, especially in constructing tall buildings. Knowing that Davao’s soil is somehow soft compared to other cities, specific precautions and proper engineering interventions are required especially for high-rise buildings. Failing to follow can cause serious damage when faced with a massive earthquake.
In terms of having the proper knowledge and attitude in times of disaster, earthquake drills are practiced in different institutions. In fact, the city participated in the nationwide earthquake drill last July. Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU) even had one last semester. Flyers regarding what to do during an earthquake were also handed out. “Duck, cover, and hold” moves are emphasized when an earthquake strikes. Apart from that, disaster preparedness is also discussed and practiced in NSTP classes.
Preparing for a disaster won’t hurt, ideal actually, especially when living in a city with active fault lines. Preparing is the most effective way of dealing with uncertainty.