The title of this post could be the next big head line in newspapers and News-TV shows all over the world.
According to Philvolcs, the Philippine Seismological Observation Institute, the Philippines should prepare itself for a large earthquake of magnitude 7.2. East of the metropolis is the West Valley Fault, an area of about 100 km, and this fault line is expected to be the cause of the next big earthquake in the region.
Earthquakes cannot be predicted unfortunately, so it is also difficult to be prepared for it. Yet Philvolcs is warning the Government and the people that in our life time a major earthquake might hit Manila and surrounding areas.
After the devastating earthquake recently in Nepal, Philvolcs has published an interactive map of the West valley Fault as an overlay on Google Earth. Check the picture next to this post or check the maps in Google Earth directly by clicking Mirror1 or Mirror2.
Thus a possible 7.2 earthquake looms around the corner of the West Valley Fault. The earthquake can occur anywhere along the West Valley Fault, including Metro Manila. But a 7.2 magnitude earthquake can shake the ground even a hundred kilometers away, which means that it can shake the whole of Metro Manila and its surrounding provinces.
If such Earthquake hits the area with a magnitude 7.2 there will be many casualties. Estimates are that around 35.000 people will die mostly because of bad construction of houses and buildings.
The Metro Manila area is home to over 25 million people and Manila is one of the most densely populated places in the world.
Infrastructure will be heavily damaged as well. There are many bridges in the Metro and a SkyWay system (a high way above the normal high way). There are the LRT and MRT, trains running through the metro, many parts high above ground level. If all these will be strong enough to withstand a strong earthquake, only time will tell… Costs of damages might be in the trillions of pesos.
My wife and I are living in this area, just around 5 km from the fault line. We do not have high buildings in our neighborhood but we have to be prepared for the worst. Water and electricity probably will be disconnected for a longer time, infrastructure destroyed or impossible to use.
Update June 7, 2015
Check a long list of recommendations of a well known urban architect for a plan to reduce casualties and damages of an upcoming Earthquake in Manila:
Are we ready for the Big One?