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Earthquake Case Study: Haiti

Where did it happen?

Haiti is a small island located in the Caribbean, south east of the U.S.
and east of Cuba. Its capital city is Port-au-Prince. Haiti is 27750
square kilometres in size and has a population of 10.6 million.

Figure 1.1 shows the perceived

shaking of Haiti when this disastrous
earthquake hit the land.

When did it happen?

Date: Tuesday January 12th 2010
Time: 4:53pm (local time)
Duration: 30 seconds, eight aftershocks within the two hours of the
Earthquake hit at 4:53 pm and lasted for about 30 seconds, there was
8 aftershocks in the two hours after the main earthquake. Search and
rescue happened right away with locals and medics helping the

Why did it happen?

The earthquake occurred because the North American plate sliding
past the Caribbean plate at a conservative plate margin.
Both plates move in the same direction but one moves faster than the
The pressure that was built up because of the friction between these
two plates eventually released causing this magnitude 7 earthquake.

What happened?
Before: Did not have any earthquake proof buildings, was in great
poverty so it there was not enough money to spend on earthquake
prevention planning.
During: Search and rescue was the first response. Local people were
the majority of rescuers but specially trained medics with sniffer dogs
and high tech heat sensitive equipment were flown in from MEDCs.
After: of the damaged buildings have been inspected and repaired.
200000 people have been rewarded with cash and food for clearing
Planning: Did not have money to plan for an earthquake and the
government was not very stable
Preparation: Did not prepare in any way, most buildings collapsed as
they were not earthquake proofed. The government ignored the
building regulations so more damage was created
Prediction: There was always a prediction that Haiti would have major
earthquake but a specific date was not included.
No evacuation or warning
Local and Regional:
Local residents helped with the clearing of rubble and participated in
search parties to rescue the people.
Cuba has sent hundreds of doctors to Haiti, one of the first responses
to the earthquake
Venezuela and Haiti had a very fond friendship and they announced a 1
billion fund to construct 4 power plants and an oil refinery
International Aid:
U.S. was the one of the largest foreign donors to Haiti after the
earthquake. They gave Haiti 712 million dollars in aid
Red cross sent many trucks to help with aid including 50 hospital beds
Other countries allowed Haitian refugees to enter
Summary of the hazard event: The magnitude 7 earthquake that hit
Haiti was a devastating tragedy. It took the country that was already in
great poverty to a more severe level. This disaster occurred because
of the North American plate sliding past the Caribbean plate at a
conservative plate margin. The country was not prepared for this
tragic incident and it did not have the money to rebuild what the
earthquake destroyed like many other countries. However it got a lot
of foreign and regional aid to recover.

Who was affected by the hazard event?

Reliable industries and structures were destroyed
The earthquake created a damage at an estimated total of 7.8 billion
Hundreds of thousands of buildings plummeted to the ground including
homes and the presidential palace
So much rubble and debris was left that it would take a 1000 trucks
working 24 hours a day for up to five years to clear everything
The clothing industry which accounts for two thirds of Haitis exports,
reported structural damage at manufacturing facilities.

230000 people were killed

300000 people were injured
1 million people were injured
8 aftershocks in the 2 hours after the earthquake lead to more chaos

Sea level in some areas changed resulting in the land sinking below
the sea
The roads were littered with cracks and fault lines.
Government was not in proper structure before the earthquake and
that just made it fall further down, sending Haiti in further shock.