SLIDESHOW: When disaster strikes Manila

Posted at 07/02/14 4:53 PM

Residents and office workers in the Manila Bay area were alerted to a disaster situation when a siren sounded at exactly 9:30am on Wednesday. The setting was the aftermath of a 7.2-magnitude earthquake triggered by a movement in the Valley Fault system.

The drill aimed to test the capability of national and local government units in responding to emergency situations. Specifically, the exercise sought to simulate the aftermath of the "Big One," a magnitude seven-earthquake or stronger that may hit Metro Manila as predicted by seismologists.

Units from different agencies responded to various scenarios, including fires triggered by the temblor, people trapped in collapsed structures, and even a traffic accident involving a chemical tanker and a bus full of people.

In what should be standard procedure, people should have been evacuated from the buildings once it was safe to move. But the drill, except for some offices which participated, lacked the involvement of the general populace which is crucial in simulating the movement of people in the event of a major disaster.

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