A news article about the “Big One” or magnitude 7.2 earthquake purportedly happening between February 24 and March 8, 2017 is circulating online, especially on social networking site, Facebook.
An alleged Dutch researcher named Frank Hoogerbeets predicted that the strong earthquake may hit Metro Manila and its nearby provinces within the period of February 24-March 8, which will be a result of a movement of the West Valley Fault system traversing parts of Metro Manila and Luzon.
According to the ‘news’, Hoogerbeets predicts that the movement will be due to 12 planetary alignments in just 2 weeks. This rare phenomenon was similar to the alignment of the 15 planets last December, which caused a 3 huge magnitude 7 earthquakes. Further, the article stated that the researcher uses a computer program called “Solpage” as his tool for forecasting earthquakes.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) on Friday refutes the claim that the “Big One” or a major earthquake, will take place on the said dates. It said that the Facebook news was erroneous. The state seismologists said that the specific date when an earthquake will happen could not be predicted.
“There is no reliable technology in the world that can confidently predict the date, time and location of large earthquakes. What we do is prepare earthquake scenarios of hazards and impacts to be used as guide for mitigation, preparedness and response,” Phivolcs said.
The agency also appealed to the public to refrain from sharing the erroneous posts which creates panic to netizens.
Phivolcs confirmed that a major earthquake may indeed hit Metro Manila and nearby provinces, which could kill thousands and destroy millions-worth of properties. Moreover, the agency said that the West Valley Fault is already ripe for movement any time.
The fault moves roughly every 400 years. The last major earthquake generated by this fault was in 1658 or 357 years ago.
Nonetheless, the agency urges residents in the areas transected by the West Valley fault system to prepare for the Big One as it may happen anytime. The National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) also scales up the preparation for the “Big One” by coordinating plans with other government agencies involved in disaster management.