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MANILA (Philippines) — Officials in the Philippines, which has been hit by large natural disasters in recent years, expect a large number of people to join a drill to prepare Manila for a feared 7.2-magnitude earthquake from an active fault that could kill 30,000 people and displace millions.
Dr Renato Solidum, who heads the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, said today (July 30) that the West Valley Fault, which cuts across the capital of more than 12 million people and outlying provinces, could shift anytime based on its seismic history.
Church bells will ring, sirens will wail and authorities will send out cellphone alarm messages to signal the start of the drill, which aims to simulate the panicky moments when a massive quake strikes and test the readiness of the public and the government.
“We don’t have a culture of preparedness,” said Metropolitan Manila Governor Francis Tolentino, adding work needed to be done to reduce a potential death toll estimated at 35,000.
In a clearing near Manila Bay, designated as a government emergency operations centre, air force helicopters prepared to evacuate the wounded and rescue teams brought cadaver bags, stretchers and first-aid kits.
The Philippines, with a population of more than 100 million people, is one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries and lies in the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire”, where earthquakes and volcanic activities are common. A 7.7-magnitude quake killed nearly 2,000 people on the main northern island of Luzon, which includes Manila, in 1990.
The western Pacific archipelago is also lashed by about 20 storms and typhoons each year. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most ferocious storms on record to hit land, devastated large areas of the central Philippines in November 2013, leaving more than 7,300 dead and missing.
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