Disasters strike like thieves in the night, unpredictable and dangerous. In a span of six days, they’ve wreaked havoc in different parts of the world, including the Philippines.

Sinkhole in Downtown Fukuoka

On November 8, a giant sinkhole ripped a busy road in the southwestern stretch of Fukuoka, Southern Japan. The 15-meter-deep sinkhole spanned 30 meters—
roughly half the size of an Olympic swimming pool. Though not a single person was injured, it caused interruptions in water, power, telecommunications and gas supply in some parts of the city. Residents speculated that the nearby subway construction might have triggered the slumping of the 5-lane thoroughway, but civil engineering experts attributed it to the soil’s composition, which is mostly sand.

Courtesy: TIME
Courtesy: TIME

Japan proved its efficiency in crisis management as sewage pipes and utility lines in the business district were restored in just two days. Nearly a week later, the collapsed road was repaired with a mixture of sand and cement, making it 30 times stronger than it used to be. On November 15, pedestrians and vehicles started using the re-opened street.

Quake in New Zealand

On November 13, a powerful 7.8 magnitude quake hit New Zealand’s South Island—the strongest in the region since 1929. Tsunamis towering up to 8 feet followed minutes after the groundshaking. These inundated communities in Kaikoura, a coastal town near the city of Christchurch. “This is the highest tsunami wave that New Zealand has seen in at least 38 years,” said Weather Watch New Zealand. According to experts, the tsunamis could have been more catastrophic if these transpired during high tide. Luckily, tide level was low at that time.

Apart from homes, livelihoods, office buildings and transport routes reduced to rubble, two fatalities in Canterbury were also reported. “In the short term, what we’re trying to do is to make sure that people of Kaikoura and the like have food, water, help and backup,” NZ Prime Minister John Key said.

Courtesy: Mark Mitchel
Courtesy: Mark Mitchel

No less than 40 aftershocks were recorded, but the strongest was a magnitude 6.2, which occurred a few hours after the major quake.

The 2016 Kaikoura quake has less death tolls than the massive 6.3 magnitude quake that struck Christchurch in 2011, causing 185 fatalities.

An average of 15,000 quakes per year are recorded in New Zealand, but about 150 are strong enough to be felt. The country is situated in the Pacific Ring of Fire, a horseshoe-shaped region where the most number of quakes and volcanic activities transpire.

On the same day, a 6.2 magnitude quake rocked Northwestern Argentina. The epicenter was recorded in the La Rioja province, but tremors were also felt in Catamarca, Tucuman, and Cordoba. However, these caused no damage and injuries.

Know how to prepare for huge quakes:

Volcano Erupts in Mexico

Western Mexico’s Colima Volcano, also known as the Volcano of Fire displayed unusual seismic activities, which prompted the evacuation of hundreds of people earlier this year. After a few months, this volcano erupted, forcing similar evacuations last October.

But last November 15, Tuesday, the abnormal activity of the volcano slowly increased as the new lava dome in its summit crater continued to grow. Its lava flow, rock fall, glowing avalanches and ash fall posed a threat to locals.

Courtesy: www.theconversation.com
Courtesy: www.theconversation.com

Colima Volcano has an elevation of nearly 4,000 meters with a 5-kilometer-wide crater mouth. 30 eruptions have been recorded in the past 431 years. It is considered one of the most active and dangerous volcanoes in Central America.

Know how to prepare for volcanic eruptions:

Mandaluyong faces State of Calamity

Three people died as 500 houses were burned down in an 8-hour blaze in Mandaluyong City on November 13, at around 7:45 pm. The fire consumed sections of two densely populated and fire-prone barangays. The Bureau of Fire Protection traced the cause to a leaking gas tank, and estimated property loss at 10 million pesos.

Courtesy: DSWD
Courtesy: DSWD

1,465 families from Barangays Addition Hills and San Jose were left homeless. Some have evacuated to a covered court and two elementary schools. The local government promised to provide financial assistance to the displaced families, and help them reconstruct their homes or move to new residences. P8,000 shall be given to families who lost their abodes; home sharers shall receive P5,000; while families who were renting would get P3,000.

On November 15, another fire incident transpired in Barangay Addition Hills—the fifth in the area for this year.

Here’s how you can prevent loss of lives and property due to fire especially this holiday season:

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority is in need of 8,000 volunteers for the Metro Manila Rescue Volunteers Corps to be deployed in case of earthquake. The group’s primary commitment is to serve as additional manpower to the existing 6,000 MMDA rescuers.

Eligible volunteers must be 18 years old and above and willing to undergo a three-day earthquake response and rescue training facilitated by the MMDA. Volunteers must be physically fit to fulfill search and rescue duties if and when the West Valley Fault moves. Volunteers will be grouped according to expertise and will be coached by batch of 30s.

Students whose families live in provinces that will not be affected by The Big One and those who live in the University Belt are encouraged to join the corps.

Aspirants will be screened by MMDA upon filling out the form at www.bepreparedmetromanila.com/ .

Because we live in an archipelago often frequented by cyclones and quakes, preparedness should be part of our lifestyle. That’s why it’s wise to devote a few hours of assembling Bug Out Bags with the family on a laidback weekend.

A Bug Out Bag (BOB) is a handy survival kit that contains our necessities in times of emergency. It is also called Go Bag, Grab Bag or Bailout Bag. This usually consists of supplies that will help you survive the first three days when trapped in a building or moved to an evacuation site, especially when problems occur during rescue and relief operations.

Water and Food Supply

Our body and vital organs need hydration to transport nutrients and eliminate waste. Over 72 hours with no water intake may lead to death. Each member of the family should have at least 3 liters of water in their BOB.

When choosing BOB food, go for the non-perishable, lightweight, less salty and ready-to-eat food items. Having a detailed supply list, including their expiration dates, will be helpful as you quarterly check the contents of your BOB.

Important items also include a can opener, Swiss knife, tumbler, plastic container and enough number of sporks.

First Aid and Hygiene

A First Aid Kit is helpful in dealing with minor injuries and illnesses. This should have the following:

It’s best to create a list indicating the product’s use, expiry date, and other necessary instructions. Practicing how to use the bandages and other medical tools is also advisable.

Wet wipes, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, toothpaste and toothbrush, hypoallergenic soap, towels and other bathing needs should be put in a separate pouch.


The choice of clothing should be based on the current season.

The basic set of clothing includes long sleeves, pants, shorts, socks, underwear, shirts, handkerchiefs and raincoats. Remember to pack clothes that will suffice for 3 days. Remember to put the clothes in a plastic bag first before packing it in your BOBs.

Other Contents

Other important things to put inside your BOB are flashlights with extra batteries, power bank, whistle, sleeping bag, rope, plastic bags and extra money.

After preparing your BOB, place it in an accessible, cool and dry place at home. You may also put one in the trunk of the car, in your office or school. Reiterate to the entire family that BOBs should only be used during emergency.

BUG OUT BAG Checklist
BUG OUT BAG Checklist
Courtesy: Albay Governor Joey Salceda.
Courtesy: Albay Governor Joey Salceda.

Mayon Volcano in the province of Albay is famous for having a “perfect cone” shape, its beauty prodding the government to declare it a natural park and a protected landscape in 1938.

But nowadays, this natural wonder is temporarily closed from the public, prohibiting tourist activities such as mountain climbing and ATV driving within its 6-kilometer Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ) because of its possible eruption. Entering the PDZ puts people at risk, not only for its sudden explosion, but also for rock fall and landslides.

What makes the situation different from past abnormalities is the presence of a 30 to 40-meter lava dome on what PHILVOLCS calls our country’s most active volcano, a swelling on the 200-meter crater that releases smoke. If the lava dome increases its size, blocks the crater and is followed by a consistent, intense degassing, a full blast explosion will occur.


PHIVOLCS has kept the warning on Alert Level 2 as Mayon continues to emit volcanic gas. Its anticipated “big bang” is predicted to be magmatic, affecting over 28,000 families in 66 barangays. But the voluminous pyroclastic flows composed of hot rocks and gas are not the sole threat; volcanic ash fall is also a risk that comes without precursors. Ash fall comprises of pulverized minerals and rocks, which may inflict discomfort to the eyes, skin and respiratory system. Also, its large volume can cause roofs to collapse.

It has been four years since the volcano’s last eruption, which typically happens within an interval of four to twelve years. Although there were just three to six-year intervals in Mayon’s recent eruptions, its potential major outburst can be observed at least three months in advance, with the help of PHIVOLCS’ instruments and observation of the volcano’s physical appearance.

Over 30,000 individuals may need to evacuate from the slopes of the volcano in the next few days. Albay Governor Joey Salceda has also issued a health advisory last August 19 (Tuesday), including the identification of evacuation centers per local government unit, deployment of a rapid assessment and survey team, water facilities, toilet facilities, a disposal system and medical stations, among others.


The Mayon volcano has a lengthy history of activity. Here are some of its noteworthy eruptions:

 February 1, 1814

Considered as the most destructive eruption of Mayon with 1,200 deaths to lahar that buried homes in Cagsawa, Malinao and Mounts Marasaga and Catburauan. This also led to the submerging of Cagsawa Church, now Cagsawa Ruins.

June 4 – July 23, 1897

350 people died during its 17-hour violent phase, mostly due to pyroclastic flows. 

December 14, 2009

 Alert level 3 was raised after 83 volcanic quakes transpired in just one day leading residents to an almost 2-month stay in evacuation sites. There were no casualties in spite of the lava flows and increased sulfur dioxide emissions.

May 7, 2013

Five climbers died due to a sudden spewing of ash and rocks from the volcano.

For more facts about the Mayon Volcano, check out the photo below:


George Vincent Gamayo is a senior segment producer of Panahon TV aired daily at 5:00 AM on the People’s Television (PTV). He is also the writer and director of PROJECT DINA or Disaster Information for Nationwide Awareness, a flagship project of the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and Office of Civil Defense which serves as a public exposition and access of disaster risk reduction and management information materials.

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