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Phivolcs reminder: Be ready for the 'Big One'

(UPDATE) IN the wake of the powerful earthquake that struck Surigao del Sur on Saturday night, the chief of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said the country is more prepared now for the «Big One» or a major, devastating quake.

Phivolcs Director Teresito Bacolcol urged the public to be ready for a strong quake. He said people must keep an emergency bag that contains, among others, medicines and food that can last at least up to three days. «We are more prepared now than, say, 20 or years ago,» Bacolcol told The Manila Times.

He advised the public to be on alert and to not panic in case strong tremors occur.

Preparedness is the reason why regular earthquake drills are conducted by the national and local governments along with the private sector, Bacolcol said.

At the same time, he reminded the public that Phivolcs is the only official source of information about earthquakes and other disasters happening in the country.

«Never rely on posts on social media, which are often unreliable while some are fake news,» he said.

Bacolcol said the agency has been constantly reminding concerned government agencies as well as local government units to make sure «that the big buildings or structures that are being constructed are meeting the requirements under the Building Code that they can withstand a strong earthquake.»

He said some LGUs like Quezon City, Makati City, Pasig City and Muntinlupa City have been implementing measures to encourage residents living along the West Valley Fault (WVF) to transfer to safer places.

«We can cite, for example, the LGU of Quezon City that has ongoing projects as they constantly remind homeowners and residents affected by the West Valley Fault to move out and transfer away from the fault line,» he said.

In a previous study, Phivolcs said that Quezon City and Manila would have the biggest casualties if a magnitude 7.2 quake emanated from the WFV.

It said close to 6,000 people could die in Quezon City alone, and more than 24,000 could be seriously injured.

The villages of Batasan Hills, Commonwealth, Bagong Silangan, Holy Spirit and Matandang Balara would be the most affected areas by a major tremor, Phivolcs said.