Monday, February 15, 2010

Why did so many people die in Haiti's quake?

Why did so many people die in Haiti's quake?

By Lucy Rodgers
BBC News

The devastating earthquakes that hit China on 12 May 2008, Italy on 6 April 2009 and Haiti one month ago all measured above 6.0 and took many lives. But why was the human cost so much greater for Haiti?

Graphic showing strength of the quakes

When Pete Garratt, Red Cross head of disaster relief, received an alert on 12 January indicating a large quake had hit Haiti near its capital Port-au-Prince, he instantly recognised the seriousness of the emergency.

"I knew that meant deaths and injuries," he says.


These countries have less money to put into buildings and there is less governance ensuring building codes are followed," Mr Garratt explains.

"Corruption can also be an issue and so, even when there are government structures to ensure building codes are followed, there are bribes that enable people to take short cuts.

"Put simply - there are the technical elements of the earthquake and then the social elements on top of that."


The resulting scale of destruction - of infrastructure, of government and other official organisations - also made it much more difficult to respond once the earthquake hit and had an impact on the number of people rescued from the rubble.


Full article here.


  1. Hey Claire -

    Been watching your progress on what to do about the Turkey->Haiti thing.

    The domes are earthquake proof/resistant, hurricane proof, etc.

    Not really a solution for short-term-get-everyone-prepared, but Monolithic has been working a long time to bring domes to other nations. The ecoshell concept is extremely effective and some what cheap to do.

    They're already working in Haiti and around the rest of the world primarily (I believe) through the one dome at a time program.

  2. Nice to know you're still reading, Jesse ... are we Facebook friends? It seems people prefer to discuss these ideas on Facebook. I sort of don't see the dome idea flying here -- the problem is that people are already living in unsafe buildings -- we're talking 15 million people -- and I just don't see all those buildings being torn down and replaced by domes. But maybe I'm missing something?

  3. Just friended you.

    That's what I meant by short-term-get-everyone-prepared. There's just no economically viable way to just move people out of current structures, tear them down and put these up. For any new construction though, they can be extremely significant by reducing the overall emergency response resource load. Any structure we don't need to worry about will allow us to deal with the other structures much better.