Metro Manila conducts 'stepped-up' earthquake drill

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — It’s 9 a.m. Wednesday and the “Big One” was supposed to have just struck Metro Manila. What to do?

Authorities first sounded a 45-second long siren to signal the start of this year’s Shake Drill to check how prepared officials, ordinary folks and community leaders are to handle the aftermath of a magnitude 7.2 quake caused by the movement of the West Valley Fault.

Traffic was stopped, work was disrupted, and people were instructed to duck, cover, and hold. Some buildings were evacuated.

In Roxas Boulevard, traffic lights flashed yellow as people flocked to the streets. Firemen pulled out a fake cadaver from a burning car at the Guadalupe Bridge along EDSA. “Looters” ransacked an establishment at Marikina Riverbanks.

According to a 2014 joint report by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology and Geoscience Australia, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake on the West Valley Fault could lead to the collapse of about 5,911 buildings and the deaths of about 37,054 Filipinos around the greater Metro Manila area, which includes parts of Rizal.

One of the event's organizers, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said that this year's drill is a "step-up" from last year.

In 2015, only Metro Manila disaster response officials carried out the quake exercise. This year, MMDA Chairperson Emerson Carlos said the drill was under the direction of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).

"Rescuers” came from outside the National Capital Region, specifically Regions 3 and 4-A.

"We have more information dissemination this time around, and a lot of LGUs and other sectors have indicated their desire to participate this year," MMDA Chairperson Emerson Carlos told CNN Philippines.

He said Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, and Laguna were included in the drill because the West Valley Fault traverses these provinces, too.

For this year's drill, the NDDRMC utilized Camp Aguinaldo — the armed forces headquarters in Quezon City — as its command center.

According to Carlos, plans call for the immediate use of the MMDA compound in Makati City as the government's nerve center during a large tremor.

If the compound is unusable or has collapsed, operations are transferred to Camp Aguinaldo. Wednesday's drill simulated such a scenario.

NCR was divided into four quadrants:

North: North and South Caloocan, Valenzuela, Quezon City, San Juan, and Mandaluyong

South: Makati, Pateros, Pasay, Taguig, Parañaque, Las Piñas, and Muntinlupa

East: Marikina and Pasig

West: Manila, Navotas, and Malabon

The North Quadrant practiced evacuation and first aid operations at the Veterans' Memorial Medical Center.

The South Quadrant simulated a collapse of the Guadalupe Bridge and the MRT Station beside it.

The East Quadrant practiced rescue and relief operations as well as the simulated repair of a burst water pipe.

The West Quadrant simulated a fire suppression scenario.