Is The Philippines Prepared For a Magnitude 9 Earthquake That Struck Japan?

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The earthquake that hit Japan just more than a week ago was the strongest ever in the history of this wealthy industrialized nation. It spawned a 23-foot tsunami that wrecked so much havoc to the Japanese people, claiming the lives of more than 13,000 helpless victims. The earthquake also damaged the nuclear plants of the country feared to cause even more serious damages to the already battered nation.

What if the same earthquake strikes the Philippines? Is this country dubbed as the Pearl of the Orient as prepared as Japan? There was no single building that collapsed in Japan as a result of that earthquake. What about if it happens in the Philippines? How prepared is this country of ours?

According to one of the Philippines’ best architects, Architect Jun Palafox, about 30% of the buildings in the metropolitan area, known as Metro Manila, will meet destruction and about 300,000 people will perish. Oh, my God!

The architect further said that those buildings which are shorter in height will be the most affected structures. If we think of it, it is quite surprising how those skyscrapers in Manila’s New York (Ayala Avenue) are more safe than the shorter ones. Well, the architect explained that the modern tall buildings have undergone a very strict analysis, computation, evaluation, and implementation of the Building Code. Nevertheless, this is not to say that those old buildings were constructed haphazardly, without taking into consideration the overall strength against natural calamities, especially earthquakes.

The architect is referring to the older buildings which may not have passed a very strict scrutiny compared to the degree of inspection done on new structures. Because of this, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) conducted a series of inspection on the old buildings and there were some found to be no longer livable. The findings said that even an earthquake of intensity 6 will topple them.

The worst anticipated scenario that will happen in our country is when the fault lines which have been dormant for about 200 years activate. The recent investigation made by experts yielded a very scary result. There are plenty of buildings and houses sitting directly above the fault lines which run thousands of kilometers across the archipelago.

One government architect said that the structures built above the fault lines were designed to withstand strong earthquakes. But this was disagreed by Architect Jun Palafox because he said that any structure should not be built above the fault lines. A setback of about five meters is required to stay safe. The Light Rail Track (LRT) and the Skyway running across the South Luzon Expressway are constructed above the dreaded Marikina Valley fault line.

These findings will surely affect the real estate industry of the country. What happened to Japan is a sure warning to the Filipinos to be more prudent in buying lots or houses. Earthquakes do happen without warning, unlike typhoon which usually results to inundation or landslides. Did the Japanese know that on that Friday afternoon a catastrophe worst than the second world war will occur? Surely not. If you value your life and properties, why opt to build or stay in a house with the fault line underneath?  

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