We are not new to natural calamities. We learned to live with them and accept them as a part of our lives. While we certainly can’t stop them, we can take measures to protect ourselves from its wrath. It is easier done in calamities that give off signals in advance, giving us ample time to prepare and evacuate when necessary. Think of hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, even floods, and droughts. Meanwhile, an earthquake can strike without any warning at all. It can do serious damage, not only to buildings, but to computer assets resulting in data loss. We just know once it hits us and we can only duck for cover.
Just what is an earthquake? Many of you are probably wondering how the earth can shake with so much ferocity and power. An earthquake is the sudden and violent shaking of the ground because of volcanic action or movement of the earth’s crust or plates. It can cause severe destruction in high magnitudes and can even trigger tsunamis on low-lying and coastal areas, says Doug Richie of The Climate Change College. These shock waves radiate out from the rock’s first breaking point.
The “Ring of Fire” otherwise known as the circum-Pacific belt is found in Asia. It is a major area in the Pacific Ocean’s basin where many volcanic eruptions and earthquakes happen. Roughly 90% of the world’s earthquakes take place in the Ring of Fire. It is in the shape of a horseshoe and is closely linked with numerous plate movements, volcanic belts, and oceanic trenches. Over the years, Asia has experienced countless earthquakes that not only destroyed properties but killed thousands of people and are considered some of the deadliest in the world.
A magnitude 6.0 earthquake hit the southern Philippines at dawn yesterday, damaging dozens of houses and sending people fleeing into the streets for safety, the authorities said.
There were no immediate reports of serious casualties but electricity was cut and water pipes ruptured in Lanao del Sur, a mainly rural region some 800km south of Manila, they said.
“Residents are really shocked with regard to the calamity that happened. So they are on standby (at) the highway,” provincial disaster official Francis Garcia said over ABS-CBN television.
As of late, more and more earthquakes ravage Asia and people are learning the importance of “duck, cover and hold” as they get to practice it in real life. The recent earthquake to hit the Southern Philippines was just weeks apart from the same terror that gripped a province south of Manila that generated countless strong aftershocks after.
Hundreds of residents of coastal areas in a province south of the Philippine capital fled to higher ground fearing a tsunami on Saturday after a series of earthquakes on the main island of Luzon.
Three quakes ranging in magnitude from 5.0 to 5.9 struck Batangas province, about 90 kms (55 miles) south of Manila, around 3 p.m. (0700 GMT) over a period of about 20 minutes, said the U.S. Geological Survey.
“Residents in the coastal villages in two towns have evacuated to safer ground after the earthquakes,” Lito Castro, head of the provincial disaster council, told local radio. “The people were afraid the earthquakes would generate a tsunami.”
The threat of being hit by the “Big One” intensified earthquake drills in the nation’s capital and the government is more stringent than ever in reviewing building codes and urging citizens who live on the fault line itself to relocate. A city as populous as Manila will face massive death tolls and millions in damaged properties once the plates move and a strong earthquake hits their midst. Although their technology and advanced warning and evacuation plans are far from that of Japan, it is better than having no preparations at all.
“Many urban areas in Asia are growing quickly, and buildings going up without regard to seismic building codes,” said Julie Jomo of Geohazards International, a California-based company that aims to help improve safety before disasters strike.
Tectonic plates also cut through China and Central Asia, while other Asian countries lie along the “ring of fire,” which encircles the Pacific Ocean and accounts for 90 percent of the world’s quakes.
Asia is also the most populous continent, and has a rapidly urbanizing population. That raises the threat of massive loss of life if buildings are constructed poorly, emergency services are not in place, and people aren’t educated about what to do when the earth shakes.
Some cities are more prepared than others. Manila, for example, sits directly astride a fault and authorities there have scaled up earthquake drills and building inspections. After being hit by two large quakes in 2015, Kathmandu is working on a mitigation strategy. Japan is the world’s leader in quake-proof construction.
Since most Asians have learned to accept the reality that earthquakes can strike when they least expect it the most, they have learned to be more vigilant and prepare for such a scenario in advance. Most citizens now know how to react in the event of an earthquake and that is to take cover or go to an open space when outside of the house or a building. If there are tsunami threats, evacuation is a must and everyone should head to higher places for safety. Most households now have their own emergency kits that they can easily take with them in the unlikely even of such disasters taking place.
Experts discovered that the Pacific Northwest is hit by 8-9 magnitude coastal earthquakes roughly every 250 years and it has been 313 years since the last massive earthquake. Everyone needs to work together to survive such a calamity and the best time to prepare for it is now.