PHIVOLCS WARNS ANEW OF ‘KILLER QUAKE’
BY ROGER M. BALANZA
If it stages a comeback, the Magnitude 8.3 killer quake that hit the Davao Region and killed more than 500 people nearly a century ago would cause much heavier damage today in Davao City because of its population, geological foundation and physical development.
On the whole, the quake would leave a swathe of devastation accross the Davao Region.
The quake would cause much heavier damage in the Davao Region, warned Desiderio Cabanlit, research specialist of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) in Davao Region.
At the AFP-PNP press conference on July 8 in Davao City, Cabanlit advised the public to be prepared for a possible earthquake anytime.
The advice was a reiteration of the warning made by Janila Deocampo, Philvolcs-Davao officer-in-charge, who said earlier that geologists have found two new fault zones in Davao City in the course of an ongoing study updating the Davao Region fault zone map.
Deocampo had also warned about a possible quake similar in intensity to the 1924 shocker.
Historically, strong quakes return after 100 years, also said Deocampo.
The April 15, 1924 quake, one of the strongest recorded in the Philippines, killed more than 500 people in the Davao Region which was then a sparsely populated region.
Deocampo earlier said if the quake recurs, Davao City would suffer severe damage unlike in the 1924 quake which had its epicenter in Mati, Davao Oriental.
She said Davao City stands on solid rock foundations that would make earthquake shocks more damaging.
While Davao of 1924 was a less inhabited and undeveloped community, today it is Mindanao’s premier city and home to nearly 2 million people and its urban and business centers dotted with tall buildings.
Cabanlit confirmed Deocampo’s earlier statement on the discovery of the two new faults but refused to make any comment as the study has to be completed yet.
The study, he said, would establish the exact location of the new fault zones. Cabanlit did not give a time frame.
We will have the study published in our website, he said.
He said the 1924 would factor in a recurrence of a new earthquake in the Davao Region.
The past earthquake would be the possible generator of another earthquake, he said.
Mati, at the tail end of the Philippine Fault that dissects the country from Luzon to Southern Mindanao and the epicenter of the 1924 earthquake, is often visited by tremors.
Davao City has its 911 Emergency Central with expensive and sophisticated disaster response trained emergency personnel.
Central 911 chief Emmanuel Jaldon said nobody is completely prepared to cope up with damage of a major earthquake.
But ahead of any disaster, Jaldon said 911 is putting focus on community preparedness through conduct of awareness and education campaign.
In case of a tsunami alert, the Davao City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management has a plan for residents of shoreline areas who would be mass evacuated to higher parts of the city.