In compliance with Manila City Government initiatives, DLSU will hold two earthquake drills this coming Wednesday, July 2, 2014, at 9:30 am and 1:30 pm.
The Local Government of Manila, particularly the Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, organized the earthquake drills in response to the 5.7 magnitude earthquake that struck off the coast of Batangas last Wednesday and was felt as far as Metro Manila. While it cannot usually be predicted when and where an earthquake will occur, the two drills will be based on two possible worst-case scenarios that could strike Manila.
The first drill will be held from 9:30 to 11:30 in the morning, and will be a simulation of an earthquake caused by the movement of the West Valley Fault Line, one of two fault lines in the Marikina Valley Fault System which primarily passes through Marikina City, Pasig City, and Muntinlupa City. The fault line has the potential of causing earthquakes with magnitude seven or even higher, by the Richter Scale. According to reports from the Manila Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, such an earthquake could result in widespread infrastructural damage. Furthermore, in an article published by The LaSallian in November 2013, it was mentioned that on a worst case scenario, the tremor from a powerful earthquake as such could reach a maximum magnitude of XIII (“very destructive”) within the city.
Meanwhile, the second drill will be in response to an earthquake caused by movement in faults along the Manila Trench and will be held from 1:30 to 3:00 in the afternoon. Such an earthquake would result in a tsunami as high as five meters, and will require vertical evacuation and different response equipment.
According to Edwin Santiago, Vice President for Administration, both evacuation drills will be timed by the University. “The target of the Manila local government is a maximum of 9 minutes,” he tells. “Now, whether that time is realistic or not is debatable, considering that it does not factor the population of each establishment.”
Santiago explains that this drill will be an opportunity for the University to establish a baseline for disaster response. “From the baseline, we will conduct subsequent and more frequent drills to determine the best time that we can muster. The ‘best’ time will depend on several factors, such as the day of the week, the time of day, whether the drill is announced or not,” says Santiago.
Earthquake evacuation: duck, cover, hold
At 9:30 am on July 2, a recording of earthquake sounds will play in all buildings and other open areas in the University. Students and all members of the community are requested to participate actively in the drill by first following the “duck-cover-hold” earthquake guidelines while the recording is playing. Even those who are not inside classrooms during the time of the drill are requested to participate by stopping all activities to duck, cover, and hold, and follow instructions from authorities in the area.
An evacuation alarm will then play to signal that it is safe to leave cover and evacuation will then proceed. In this first drill, members of the community are to proceed to the nearest open area. Evacuation areas include the St. La Salle (LS) Hall driveway, Henry Sy Sr. Hall open field and garden, Leveriza parking area, Marian Quadrangle, Taft Avenue, and Fidel Reyes Street. The Rizal Stadium will also serve as an emergency evacuation area, particularly recommended for those inside the Faculty Center at the time the evacuation is signaled.
The elevators and escalators must not be used during the evacuation. The escalators in Henry Sy Sr. Hall will be shut down during the drill, and re-entry of buildings will not be permitted until declared safe by the administration.
Tsunami vertical evacuation: find highest ground
Should a tsunami warning be raised following an earthquake caused by the Manila Trench, the residents of Manila have roughly one hour to evacuate before high waters reach the city. Because it will be difficult and nearly impossible to bring everyone out of the city, given the population as well as the other hazards an earthquake would pose, people are instructed to evacuate to the highest possible ground. This means establishments and other stable infrastructures with more than one story can serve as evacuation centers.
For the second drill, an earthquake recording will also play at 1:30 pm and as with the first, members of the community are requested to follow “duck-cover-hold” protocols until the evacuation alarm sounds. Upon hearing the alarm, everyone must proceed to higher floors of the nearest building. If already inside the building and in the upper floors, proceed to the nearest room and stay inside.
The elevators and escalators must also not be used and exit of the building will not be allowed until cleared by authorities.