Phivolcs: 7.2 earthquake may isolate Metro Manila

Posted at 06/17/2014 3:09 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Metro Manila and nearby provinces may be isolated due to collapsed roads and buildings if a 7.2-magnitude earthquake hits the National Capital Region, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) warned yesterday.

Speaking at a summit sponsored by the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) and SM Prime Holdings, government seismologist Renato Solidum said a movement in the West Valley Fault, estimated to generate a huge tremor, could cause a tsunami as high as 18 feet that could damage over 100,000 residential buildings.

Solidum said the fault system that runs north to south along the west and east edges of the Marikina Valley poses the greatest threat to Metro Manila.

“Metro Manila and its vicinity will be isolated should the Manila trench move and cause tsunami as high as 5.5 meters,” he said.

Metro Manila may be separated into four isolated zones based on geography. Collapsed buildings in Makati and Mandaluyong cities as well as the Pasig River may separate northern and southern parts of the metropolis. Broken road networks will isolate the west and east sections of the capital.

The Phivolcs chief said such occurrence was recorded twice – on Nov. 9, 1828 and June 3, 1863 – when tsunamis of about two meters engulfed the western side of Luzon, including Metro Manila.

Aside from tsunami, massive flooding and fires may isolate the metropolis.

Andrew McElroy, UNISDR disaster risk reduction expert, said the Philippines registered the highest number of deaths when Typhoon Yolanda struck the Visayas last year.

Yolanda left nearly 8,000 people dead.

The earthquake in Bohol and Cebu killed 230 people.

McElroy said the UNISDR is leading efforts to make the private sector more adaptive to the challenges brought about by climate change.

For his part, Hans Sy, president of SM Prime Holdings, said they have been implementing measures to make their businesses resilient to disasters and to protect their employees and communities.