Thursday, September 29, 2016

Bicol holds simultaneous earthquake drill for third quarter

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 28 (PNA) —- Simultaneous earthquake drills kicked off Wednesday morning in six Bicol provinces with Pamplona, Camarines Sur as the central pilot area in the third quarter nationwide earthquake exercise, the head of Office of Civil Defense Bicol (OCD-Bicol) said Wednesday.

Bernardo Rafael Alejandro, head of OCD-Bicol and the Bicol Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, said hundreds of disaster responders took part in the drill that started around 9 a.m today in 107 towns and seven cities in Bicol.

The disaster responders included units from the Armed Forces of the Philippines such the Police, Army, Air Force and Navy, Bureau of Fire Protection and Philippine Coast Guard.

The third quarter drill aimed to perfect the basic “duck, cover and hold” model and increase public awareness of the concept.

“The simultaneous drill in Bicol has achieved its objective as the disaster responders were able to impress evaluators that they can swiftly respond during a high magnitude earthquake scenario,” Alejandro said.

He said the outcome of the exercise indicates that “Bicol is now prepared for the Big One.”

Alejandro, in a phone interview, said that in the past two quarters of this year, the towns of Pasacao and Sorsogon City were designated as the central area of the region-wide earthquake drill.

Alex Baloloy, volcanologist of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), in a phone interview, said Bicol is vulnerable to both offshore and inland quakes.

He said the Bicol peninsula sits between two quake zones, the Philippine Trench which stretches along the Pacific area and the Philippine Fault that traverses Luzon up to Mindanao.

Baloloy said an offshore quake of magnitude 7 to 9 can trigger a “tsunami” that could affect the eastern coastal areas of Albay, Catanduanes, Sorsogon, and the Camarines provinces.

Phivolcs defines a tsunami as a series of sea waves commonly generated by under-the-sea earthquakes whose height could be greater than five meters.

Mark Miraballes, senior geologist of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), in an interview, said an inland earthquake with a high magnitude could hit all the Bicol provinces as these areas are situated in the periphery of the Philippine Fault, where local faults such as the Legazpi Fault, Masbate segment and suspected faults in Camarines Sur lie.

He said high magnitude quakes could “extremely affect” flat lying areas with “alluvial soil material deposits,” flood plains, coastal and river channels.

Alluvial deposits that consist of silt, sand, clay and gravel are materials deposited by rivers.

Miraballes added that an earthquake with magnitude 6 to 9 can trigger ground shaking, landslides, sinkholes and flooding. (PNA) LAP/GVR/MSA/CBD