Don’t panic during quakes PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 18 March 2012 15:32

Authorities are urging communities nationwide to avoid panicking during tremors, several of which rock the Philippines annually, but to instead prepare for possible onslaught of such hazards and regularly undertake earthquake drills that teach people what to do when these strike.

They made the call following reports that the magnitude 5.9 earthquake that struck parts of Mindanao at 3:58 p.m. Friday triggered panic and stampede among mall shoppers in Surigao City, resulting in injuries to several of them.

”Early warning systems must be balanced with preparedness to protect one’s self – there must be a combined effort,” said Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) Director Renato Solidum.

National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Executive Director Benito Ramos also believes earthquake drills can help lessen tendency for people to panic since these exercises orient them on how to react during tremors.

”Don’t ignore earthquake drills,” he stressed.

Phivolcs reported that the earthquake of tectonic origin struck two kilometers south 20 degrees west of Dinagat province at a depth of 16 kilometers.

The earthquake was felt at intensity VI in Surigao City; intensity V (General Luna, Surigao del Norte province as well as Basilisa, Dinagat province and San Ricardo, Southern Leyte province); intensity IV (Carrascal, Surigao del Sur province and Tandag City); intensity III (Tolosa and Tacloban City, Leyte province; Davao City; Bislig City; Borongan, Oras, Sulat and Dolores, Eastern Samar province; Cateel, Taragona, Davao Oriental province; Cagayan de Oro City; Cagwait, Surigao del Sur province; Catbalogan, Samar province; Maasin and Hinunangan, Southern Leyte province); intensity II (Cebu City;
Butuan City; San Agustin, Surigao del Sur province) and intensity I (Hibok-Hibok, Camiguin province), Phivolcs reported.

Solidum does not expect serious damages from the earthquake.

”The earthquake’s magnitude isn’t that strong to be very destructive,” he said.

He reiterated the need for earthquake preparedness, noting the Philippines’ location along the Pacific Ring of Fire makes this country prone to tremors.
“Between 5,000 to 7,000 earthquakes strike our country every year and 20 to 30 of these are felt,” he said.

Such occurrences are normal for the Philippines which hosts several earthquake generators or faults, he clarified.

NDRRMC reported that the March 16 earthquake caused cracks in Gaisano Mall and the provincial gymnasium in Surigao City.

“Experts are already inspecting the cracks,” Ramos said, noting this assessment will indicate whether the mall is still safe for use.
The quake left 35 people injured, NDRRMC reported.

Ramos said the victims were confined in a hospital but 32 of them were discharged already.
“Their injuries weren’t serious,” he added.

To help minimize panic and stampedes during future earthquakes, Ramos said people entering buildings must know where exits there are located.
He added people must also protect themselves from falling objects during earthquakes.