Disaster imagination lessens casualties - Solidum

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(CNN Philippines) — The head of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said advances in technology, coupled with proper disaster imagination, could spell the difference in casualties when calamity strikes.

In a recent live interview over CNN Philippines' Headline News, Phivolcs chief Renato Solidum said advances in science and engineering would be meaningless if there's lack of real vision on the impact of a hazard, which, according to him, could lead to a higher number of casualties.

Related: Bracing for the big one: Is Metro Manila quake-ready?

"There are still many people that die specially during extreme events like typhoon, Super Typhoon Yolanda, and geologic events like earthquake,"Solidum said.

The long-time Phivolcs official reiterated that being able to envision the possible effects of a certain earthquake magnitude could help the public and the government think about how to approach the hazard.

The Phivolcs has been mapping the Valley Fault System since the 1990s. Its original version of the maps was released in 2000 but underwent reassessment in 2012.

Related: New Phivolcs atlas shows detailed view of quake fault

The Valley Fault System includes the 100-kilometer West Valley Fault, which starts in Bulacan near the Angat reservoir and ends in Laguna, and the 10-kilometer East Valley Fault that runs across Rizal.

A higher magnitude of earthquake can be expected from a longer fault, Solidum said.

Related: Pasig to set up communications system for disaster response

"So we expect a 7.2 magnitude for a longer fault… The 10 kilometers will correspond to roughly 6.2 magnitude earthquake."

However, Solidum clarified that areas on top of the fault does not necessarily mean that they will have a higher number of casualties as it all depends on the structural integrity of houses and buildings.

The most important hazard, according to him, is the strong ground shaking.

"Even cities not listed (on top of the fault line) will be affected by the strong ground shaking. So earthquake resistance or integrity of houses and buildings will matter."

Structures near the fault would experience high-frequency waves which would shake the shorter buildings more as they are lighter.

If the epicenter is far, the motion would be slow which would sway high rises more than short structures.

Solidum also suggested the relocation of informal settlements who live along the fault line and for private lot owners to strengthen their buildings.

He also advised for the public to know what to do during an earthquake.

Related: 'Preppers': Call them paranoid, but they’re geared up for disaster

"Immediately after the shaking go to an open area, which is at least one and a half times the height of the tallest structure within the surrounding," he said.

"The reason why we're showing this or sharing this to the public and to the government is for all of us to understand the gravity of this situation. If you don't prepare, this would be the impact. But if we do something, that nightmare scenario will be gone."

Solidum also said homeowners could approach Phivolcs to inquire if their home is along the fault line.

[Editor's note: CNN Philippines will have a special coverage of the Metro Manila shake drill on July 30, 2015 starting at 10:30 a.m. CNN Philippines is available on free tv: Manila RPN – TV 9;  Destiny Ch.14; Cablelink Ch.14; Cignal Ch.10; Sky Cable (Manila) Ch.14; and via livestream on cnnphilippines.com/videos.]