Most Disaster-prone Country’
Philippines, being in the so-called Circum-Pacific belt of fire and
typhoon, is constantly subjected to disasters and calamities. In
fact, the government has even declared the month of July as the national
disaster consciousness month.
AUBREY SC MAKILAN
2000, a Brussels-based research center declared Philippines as “the most
disaster-prone country on earth.” It cited typhoons, earthquakes,
volcanic eruptions, floods, garbage landslides and military actions
against Muslim rebels as bases.
are classified into two: natural and manmade. Natural calamities¾tropical
cyclones, floods, droughts, storm surges (tidal waves), tornadoes,
landslides, tsunamis, volcanic hazards and earthquakes¾are
physical forces that my cause disaster when they occur in populated areas.
On the other hand, manmade disasters include natural resource degradation,
pollution, displacement due to militarization, development aggression and
National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) is the country’s disaster
management. It is under the Office of Civil Defense which serves as the
highest policy-making body for disasters in the country and includes
almost all department secretaries as its members. On the other hand, the
disaster coordinating councils (DCCs) from the regional, provincial, city
and municipal level are composed of representatives of national government
agencies operating at these levels and local officials concerned.
there were two major disaster events when the Philippine government issued
an appeal for international assistance: the July 16, 1990 earthquake with
a 7.8 magnitude and the Mt. Pinatubo volcanic eruption in June 1991 dubbed
as the worst volcanic eruption of the century.
Philippine Institute for Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) estimates
that the Philippines experiences about four to five earthquakes daily of
varying intensities. This is mainly because the country is situated along
two major tectonic plates--the Pacific Plates and the Eurasian Plates.
can be classified as tectonic or volcanic. Tectonic earthquakes are caused
by the sudden displacements along fault fissures in the lithosphere, the
outermost core of the earth. Volcanic earthquakes, on the other hand, are
triggered by the fracturing of rocks and by the rise of molten rocks from
the earth’s inner core. Of the 220 volcanoes in the country, 22 are
results from the sudden shifting of the earth’s crust below or at the
surface, causing ground vibrations. If these earthquakes are sufficient in
magnitude, these result in the collapse of buildings, destruction of
properties and death of people.
magnitude of an earthquake depends on the amount of energy released during
the earthquake; the intensity is based on the damaged felt in an area and
thus varies from place to place. The Richter scale is often used to
measure the energy released by the quake. The Phivolcs uses ten levels to
measure the strength of an earthquake. Intensity I refers to “scarcely
perceptible” quakes, the weakest, while intensity X refers to the
“completely devastating” earthquake, the strongest.
to the Phivolcs website, the country has experienced 12 destructive
earthquakes from 1968-2003.
most destructive earthquake experienced in the country occurred on July
16, 1990. It was triggered by strike-slip movements along the northwest
segment of the Philippine Fault Zone, the largest fault, and its splay,
the Digdig Fault. The earthquake epicenter was placed at 15º 42' N and
121º 7' E near the town of Rizal, Nueva Ecija. It affected 23 provinces
in six regions of Luzon.
7.8 magnitude, the quake resulted in 1,620 deaths, 3,500 injuries, about
148,000 homeless, and left three (3) cities in Luzon ¾
Cabanatuan, Dagupan and Baguio Cities ¾
devastated at about P12.2. billion estimated damages.
so far unequaled in deaths, property damage and psychological shock, the
July 16, 1990 earthquake was listed among the major earthquakes worldwide.
Part: ‘Big One’ Is Possible But Metro Is Unprepared
II: Disaster Execs Admit They
Can’t Handle Big Quake
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