The Catastrophic Earthquake in Haiti

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At 4:53 p.m. on January 12, 2010, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 struck Haiti. Within 20 minutes of the initial shock, two large aftershocks followed with respective magnitudes of 6.0 and 5.7. Leog- ne is the epicenter, a town approximately 15 miles southwest from Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital. This location is near, if not on, the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden Fault. In recent years, Haiti has dealt with a series of disasters but this earthquake is deemed as a catastrophe.

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        Port-au-Prince and its surrounding metropolitan area has an estimated population of 3 million people. The Haitian Government confirmed that there were more than 230,000 dead, 300,000 injured, and more than 1.3 million displaced. Overall, roughly 3 million people were affected by the earthquake. The ratio of death to total population is the highest in modern times, making it the most destructive event on a global scale.

        The earthquake took a toll on infrastructures with an estimated 80 percent of buildings damaged, if not completely destroyed. Schools, government offices and hospitals were especially damaged, as well as homes. The cost to repair Haiti is expected to be around 14 billion U.S. dollars.

Socioeconomic factors contributed to the infrastructural damage and fatalities as Haiti is the most impoverished country in the western hemisphere. With little money, Haiti’s buildings are not durable enough to withstand natural disasters, despite the use of heavy concrete material. The buildings around Port-au-Prince typically consist of several stories due to limited space in a densely populated, urban location. A combination of poor structure and airborne material from a collapse likely contributed to the large amount of injuries and fatalities in the earthquake. Unpreparedness was another factor since earthquakes are not common in Haiti. If economic circumstances were different, the earthquake’s devastation may have been minimized.

Troubles continued after the earthquake with a series of landslides-more than 30,000 of them. A majority of these landslides occurred south of Leog?- ne, the epicenter, and traveled toward the coast. Tsunamis occurred near the Bay of Port-au-Prince and the island of Hispaniola, with waves approximately 10 feet high. Due to the small waves, the tsunamis were probably triggered by the landslides. The damage from the tsunamis was minimal even though it killed an additional three people.

        The earthquake put Haiti at an even greater economic disadvantage. Any money that the nation had to rebuild itself is now needed for the cleanup. Others countries want to help Haiti but the aid is delayed due to inaccessible ship ports, airports, and paved roadways.

        Haiti’s reputation of high unemployment rates is prolonged by the damage of the earthquake. The few jobs available in Haiti were agricultural but the necessary buildings and resources were destroyed by the natural disaster, additionally limiting the availability of clean water, food and shelter.

        The catastrophic earthquake tested Haiti as a nation, illuminating the weakness of their infrastructure, economy and government. To improve living conditions, the country will have to depend on foreign aid. Long-term success, however, requires a functional government and cannot emerge through donations.

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The Catastrophic Earthquake In Haiti. (2019, Aug 06). Retrieved December 5, 2022 , from
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