Comparing Earthquakes Essay

Submitted By SNB43
Words: 1656
Pages: 7

“Earthquakes have a greater impact when they happen in poorer parts of the world” Discuss

Earthquakes are a natural phenomena that, when occurring near civilisation, can and almost always do cause grief and harm to those caught in the shock waves or after effects. The severity of impacts from earthquakes are obviously dependent on the countries that are affected; for example a richer, but more densely populated and constructed country can suffer significantly more than a poorer, but more sparsely populated and constructed country. Regardless of a country’s economical status, earthquakes disrupt the lives of people all over the globe, and will continue to do so for the rest of the Earth’s existence.

At 16:53 (local time) on the 12th January 2010, an earthquake with magnitude 7.o on the Richter Scale hit the west side of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, which is the location of the francophone country, Haiti. Haiti happens to be the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with 80% of the population living under the poverty line and 54& living in abject poverty (which has likely increased since the earthquake), so the impacts were likely to be severe.
There were many primary economic impacts of the earthquake; for example, services such as electricity, water, sanitation and communications were badly damaged, disrupted or destroyed, significantly increasing the cost of repairs, hindering the success of the rescue efforts (do to the lack of communications) and resulting in the spread of more diseases. Furthermore, poorly prepared buildings crumpled like paper when the earthquake struck, and whole towns were swept down hillsides, increasing the death toll, which ended up at about 230,000 deaths, although an accurate estimate is difficult to make, due the vast quantity of people living in poverty, and thus, living in squatter settlements. Moreover, the earthquake created about 19 million m3 of rubble and debris in Port-au-Prince – this was enough to fill a line of shipping containers stretching, from end to end, from London to Beirut. The cost of its removal, obviously drastically increase the amount of money that was needed to put the country back to how it was before the earthquake hit. Some secondary impacts include the fact that 1 in 5 people lost jobs due to the destruction of buildings, especially with the clothing industry, which was Haiti’s biggest; this loss of jobs resulted in more people being forced into poverty, and less money being brought in =to the economy through services like exporting clothing and material. In addition, the total cost of repairing the damage over the course of 5 to 10 years is $US11.5 billion, much of which has to, and partly has, come from outside donations from richer countries like the USA, Canada, Japan etc.
As well as economic impacts, there were also social impacts from the earthquake; example of primary impacts include the fact that over 2million people were affected and 1.5 million were made homeless, which undoubtedly, significantly raised the figure for the number of people living in poverty. The homeless were accommodated in over 1,100 squalid temporary camps, with limited services such as water and sanitation, and many remained in these camps for well over a year; the poor economy of Haiti meant the homeless could not be suitably and hygienically accommodated. Furthermore, there was a the lack of doctors, hospitals (most of which were destroyed) and medical supplies, which meant the injured could not be seen to and those suffering from diseases could not be treated, increasing the death toll. Additionally, the port was largely destroyed and the airport was badly damaged, making it very difficult to bring in emergency supplies and aid, which lead to more people dying from injuries and diseases, as well as rescue and accommodation efforts taking more time to carry out. Moreover, approximately 5,000 schools were destroyed or badly damaged, which would have (and surely has)