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12th January 2010 Haiti Earthquake: A Case Study



January 2010 Haiti Earthquake:
When?
12th January 2010, 4:53PM local time.

Where?
Haiti in the Caribbean Islands.

What?
An earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter Scale struck 10 miles (15km) south-west from the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, at a depth of 30km.

Why?
Haiti lies on a destructive plate margin (with the North America plate being subducted under the Caribbean plate) which causes stresses to build up along the fault line, which had been building up for 200 years since the last big earthquake in 1770 which completely levelled Port-au-Prince.
  1. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, with more than 70% of Haitians living on less than US$2 a day.
  2. 87% of people living in Port-au-Prince were living in slum conditions, tightly packed, poorly built concrete buildings which collapsed as the ground shook which resulted in creating such a high death toll.
  3. The initial shock lasted for less than a minute and by 24th January at least 52 aftershocks measuring 4.5 or greater on the Richter Scale had been recorded.
  4. 3.5 million people were affected by the earthquake, 1.5 million were made homeless as a result of the earthquake.
  5. The soft sedimentary rock Port-au-Prince is built on contributed to the massive buildings damage, with over 180,000 homes being damaged or destroyed and 4,000 schools being damaged or destroyed. Engineering to earthquake-proof these buildings was too expensive, especially for developing countries like Haiti. Most of the buildings destroyed (50% in total) were destroyed because they had been built on unstable land as it is the cheapest land that can be bought.
  6. 25% of Civil Servants in Port-au-Prince died. A total of 220,000 people died: 4,000+ were killed by cholera and 216,000 were infected. A further 300,000+ people were injured as a result of the earthquake. 
  7. The Port was heavily damaged, so there were issues with getting aid into the affected areas by sea. Lateral spreading had caused the harbours to slump into the sea and coral reefs bulged upwards, which killed them due to an overexposure of sunlight.
  8. Land in the north was uplifted and land located to the south of the fault subsided (fell in.)
  9. At its peak, 1.5 million people were living in camps.
  10. The DEC appeal raised around £101 million, with 1.8 million people receiving aid funded by DEC.
  11. 890,000 people were given safe access to toilets.
  12. 720,000 people were given clean water.
  13. 187,000 medical consultations were given.
  14. 100,000+ people were provided with emergency shelter.

Tags: [a2] geography
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