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Mexico quakes a timely reminder of our Big One

A nationwide earthquake drill was supposed to be held last Thursday, September 21, but because protest rallies had been scheduled for that day, which was the 45th anniversary of the proclamation of martial law in 1972, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council deemed wiser to postpone the drill to a later date.

President Duterte had also declared September 21 a National Day of Protest, suspending work in government offices and classes in public schools and universities. He said he was encouraging everyone who has something to protest – high prices, low salaries, rising transport fares, unemployment, etc. – to join the protest rallies.

Since the planned earthquake drill would be using government offices and schools as pilot areas and government employees and students as participants, the declaration of a holiday by the President meant most people were likely to stay home on that day. It was indeed better to postpone the drill to another day when everyone would be in offices and classrooms and participate.

The government has already held earthquake drills several times in the past, but there are still many people who would not know what to do in case of a major earthquake. School children know they have to cover their heads somehow, with books or notebooks, look for shelter under tables, or proceed in orderly files out to open spaces. But the idea of emergency kits has not quite caught on among most families. In case of a real emergency, they also would not know where to go.

The earthquake drills are aimed at preparing the public in case a magnitude-7.1 earthquake hits the region, because that is the prediction should the West Valley Fault from Bulacan, through Metro Manila, down to Cavite move any time now, as predicted. The recent earthquakes in Mexico – a magnitude-8.2 last September 10 which killed 90 people, followed by a 7.1 last September 19 which killed 149– are timely reminders that our planet Earth is continually undergoing changes all over its surface, in the levels underneath, and in the air where hurricanes and typhoons form.

When the new date for the nationwide earthquake drill is chosen, possibly in this final week of this month, we call on all residents and all families to pay close attention to its instructions and suggestions – for preparations, what to do at the moment of impact, and where to go in case of a widespread emergency.

We pray that when the Big One – the name given to the predicted 7.1 West Valley Fault earthquake – comes, casualties will kept down. We can do this if we heed the warnings and the calls for safety precautions as we join once again the earthquake drill this month.