Earthquakes and Vulnerable Locations

It is not earthquakes themselves that are the main cause of death, rather it is the effect that earthquakes have on the structures near the epicenter that result in loss of life. This fact is evident when considering the significant differences in death toll between earthquakes of the same magnitude, but in different locations. For example, the tragic earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010 had a death toll of over 200,000 people. On the other hand, the 2010 Christchurch earthquake which was also of magnitude 7.1, resulted in zero deaths. Seismically sound buildings are absolutely imperative in saving lives during an earthquake. The deaths in Haiti, a country in which over half of the population is below the poverty line, could have been greatly reduced had buildings been more structurally sound. With this knowledge, the seismic retrofitting of buildings especially in highly populated urban areas should be taken extremely seriously. This topic is not meant to depress, but rather to inform and remind readers of the devastating impact that earthquakes can have.  Seismic mandates serve the greater good in the communities that adopt them.

The World Bank | Haiti Overview

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