by Homer R. Jajalla
Mahinog, Camiguin (29 September) -- Scenario: A magnitude 7.5 earthquake spreads panic among the hundreds of residents in coastal barangays of San Roque and Benoni in the municipality of Mahinog as siren wails and alarm bells continuously ring, warning people to evacuate to higher grounds as tsunami is coming.
But of course, there was no tsunami coming.
The alarm was only part of a tsunami drill conducted by the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council (RDCC), Office of the Civil Defense Region (OCD), in region 10, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHILVOLCS), in cooperation with the Provincial, Municipal and concerned Barangay Disaster Coordinating Councils (DCCs) here.
OCD Regional Director Carmilito A. Lupo said that tsunami drills were important for all people living in earthquake-prone province such as Camiguin.
He praised the municipal and barangay disaster coordinating councils for their initiative in conducting the drill, which, he said, was the "first tsunami drill ever conducted in region 10."
The tsunami of August 16, 1976, in the eastern and western Moro Gulf and the Sulu islands was the most devastating tsunami disaster in recent times in the Philippines wherein about 8,000 people were killed.
On November 15, 1994, a magnitude 7.1 hit Baco, Mindoro, near Verde Island that generated a local destructive tsunami. A total of 78 people were killed and 430 injured.
Tsunamis are waves that are produced when water in the sea is suddenly moved or displaced. The cause of movement is oftentimes a large earthquake that takes place underwater.
PHILVOLCS-10 Officer In-Charge Marcial P. Labininay said the signs that a tsunami is coming is when strong earthquake is felt in the community, followed by a sudden rise or fall of sea water, and unusual sound.
"When you see this, you must leave the place immediately and go to higher ground," the PHIVOLCS chief said.
PHILVOLCS also informed that it took only two to five minutes at the earliest up to 20 minutes after the earthquakes for the tsunami waves to hit the shores of Moro Gulf and Oriental Mindoro. (Mahinog IO)