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Philippines 6.1-Magnitude Earthquake Leaves at Least 16 Dead
At least 16 people have died, 81 are injured and 14 are still missing after an earthquake struck Luzon island in the Philippines Monday, according to the latest figures from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, as the Philippine Star tweeted Tuesday.
The 6.1 magnitude quake caused a supermarket to collapse in Porac, Pampanga province on the country's largest island, trapping people inside, Reuters reported.
"We're not sure how many people are trapped still," Porac Mayor Condralito Dela Cruz told television news channel ANC, as Reuters reported. "We can still hear some voices, the voice of a woman."
The Philippine Star said the death toll would likely rise as rescue crews continue to search the rubble of the Chuzon Supermarket. A state of calamity was declared in Porac to allow it to access funds faster, The Associated Press reported.
The earthquake occurred at 5 p.m. local time, and Dela Cruz said it was the strongest the town had experienced. Sixty-five-year-old resident Aurelia Daeng, who lost a wall of her home to the quake, agreed.
"It was very strong. It was our first time experiencing something like that," she said, as Reuters reported.
The earthquake also damaged the Clarke International Airport in Pampanga, injuring seven people when part of the ceiling over the check-in area collapsed, CNN reported. The airport has suspended operations for 24 hours.
The governor of Pampanga, where most of the deaths took place, said she would investigate why certain buildings collapsed and others did not, Reuters reported.
The quake was also felt in the capital of Manila, about 68 miles to the south, where office workers fled swaying high rise buildings. A video showed water flying out of a penthouse swimming pool, according to CNN.
Monday's quake was followed by another, stronger earthquake in San Julian town in Eastern Samar province, The Associated Press reported. That earthquake registered a 6.4 on the Richter scale, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It sent people fleeing from homes and offices, but no casualties were reported. There was no serious damage, but cracks were reported on roads, buildings and a church in San Julian.
The quake Tuesday, which struck the island of Samar, prompted fears of a tsunami from some in the Philippines. But the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said it posed no tsunami risk.
The Philippines suffers from an elevated number of natural disasters because it is located on the seismically active "Ring of Fire" that surrounds the Pacific Ocean.
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The rallying cry to build it again and to build it better than before is inspiring after a natural disaster, but it may not be the best course of action, according to new research published in the journal Science.
"Faced with global warming, rising sea levels, and the climate-related extremes they intensify, the question is no longer whether some communities will retreat—moving people and assets out of harm's way—but why, where, when, and how they will retreat," the study begins.
The researchers suggest that it is time to rethink retreat, which is often seen as a last resort and a sign of weakness. Instead, it should be seen as the smart option and an opportunity to build new communities.
"We propose a reconceptualization of retreat as a suite of adaptation options that are both strategic and managed," the paper states. "Strategy integrates retreat into long-term development goals and identifies why retreat should occur and, in doing so, influences where and when."
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"There's a definite rhetoric of, 'We're going to build it back better. We're going to win. We're going to beat this. Something technological is going to come and it's going to save us,'" said A.R. Siders, an assistant professor with the disaster research center at the University of Delaware and lead author of the paper, to the New York Times. "It's like, let's step back and think for a minute. You're in a fight with the ocean. You're fighting to hold the ocean in place. Maybe that's not the battle we want to pick."
Rethinking retreat could make it a strategic, efficient, and equitable way to adapt to the climate crisis, the study says.
Dr. Siders pointed out that it has happened before. She noted that in the 1970s, the small town of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved itself out of the flood plain after one too many floods. The community found and reoriented the business district to take advantage of highway traffic and powered it entirely with solar energy, as the New York Times reported.
That's an important lesson now that rising sea levels pose a catastrophic risk around the world. Nearly 75 percent of the world's cities are along shorelines. In the U.S. alone coastline communities make up nearly 40 percent of the population— more than 123 million people, which is why Siders and her research team are so forthright about the urgency and the complexities of their findings, according to Harvard Magazine.
Some of those complexities include, coordinating moves across city, state or even international lines; cultural and social considerations like the importance of burial grounds or ancestral lands; reparations for losses or damage to historic practices; long-term social and psychological consequences; financial incentives that often contradict environmental imperatives; and the critical importance of managing retreat in a way that protects vulnerable and poor populations and that doesn't exacerbate past injustices, as Harvard Magazine reported.
If communities could practice strategic retreats, the study says, doing so would not only reduce the need for people to choose among bad options, but also improve their circumstances.
"It's a lot to think about," said Siders to Harvard Magazine. "And there are going to be hard choices. It will hurt—I mean, we have to get from here to some new future state, and that transition is going to be hard.…But the longer we put off making these decisions, the worse it will get, and the harder the decisions will become."
To help the transition, the paper recommends improved access to climate-hazard maps so communities can make informed choices about risk. And, the maps need to be improved and updated regularly, the paper said as the New York Times reported.
"It's not that everywhere should retreat," said Dr. Siders to the New York Times. "It's that retreat should be an option. It should be a real viable option on the table that some places will need to use."
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