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EDITORIAL - Earthquake preparedness

Mayon Volcano continues to spew ash and lava, and experts say it will be restive for about three months. In Japan last month, a soldier died when a volcano erupted and triggered an avalanche in a ski resort area. Also in January, a magnitude-6.1 earthquake rocked Indonesia. This was followed by a magnitude-5.5 temblor on Feb. 2.

On Tuesday night, it was Taiwan’s turn to be struck by a powerful earthquake. Rescuers searched yesterday for scores of missing people, including a Filipina, following the magnitude-6.4 quake that hit Taiwan’s eastern coast, close to the city of Hualien. Many of the missing were trapped in buildings that tilted at precarious angles in the city, with at least six deaths confirmed as of last night.

Steel supports were used to keep tilting buildings from collapsing as rescuers scrambled to find the missing. Can this be done in the Philippines?

As seismologists warned of movement in the Pacific Ring of Fire, Filipinos are again reminded of the need to prepare for the Big One along the East Valley Fault. The earthquake fault cuts across Metro Manila from the eastern section to new residential and industrial areas in Laguna.

Studies conducted in recent years by different groups came up with the same conclusion: the National Capital Region, where over a tenth of the population lives and works, and neighboring provinces are ill-equipped to deal with the Big One.

Even wealthy, high-tech nations such as Japan can never be fully prepared for nature’s wrath. Who could have anticipated the magnitude-9 to 9.1 earthquake that triggered an apocalyptic tsunami in March 2011 in northeastern Japan? It’s possible, however, to minimize the damage and save lives. The earthquake in Taiwan should give more urgency to boosting preparedness for earthquakes in the Philippines.

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