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Haiti Earthquake Case Study Primary Effects Of Floods

Effects of an earthquake

Clearing rubble after an earthquake, Bhuj, India

Earthquakes can destroy settlements and kill many people. Aftershocks [aftershocks: Smaller earthquakes and tremors that follow the main quake. ] can cause even more damage to an area. It is possible to classify the impacts of an earthquake, by taking the following factors into account:

  • short-term (immediate) impacts
  • long-term impacts
  • social impacts (the impact on people)
  • economic impacts (the impact on the wealth of an area)
  • environmental impacts (the impact on the landscape)
Social impactsEconomic impactsEnvironmental impacts
Short-term (immediate) impactsPeople may be killed or injured. Homes may be destroyed. Transport and communication links may be disrupted. Water pipes may burst and water supplies may be contaminated.Shops and business may be destroyed. Looting [looting: A term which refers to stealing from unguarded homes or businesses. ] may take place. The damage to transport and communication links can make trade difficult.The built landscape may be destroyed. Fires can spread due to gas pipe explosions. Fires can damage areas of woodland. Landslides may occur. Tsunamis [tsunami: A large tidal wave caused by an earthquake under the sea. ] may cause flooding in coastal areas.
Long-term impactsDisease may spread. People may have to be re-housed, sometimes in refugee camps.The cost of rebuilding a settlement is high. Investment in the area may be focused only on repairing the damage caused by the earthquake. Income could be lost.Important natural and human landmarks may be lost.

Effects are often classified as primary and secondary impacts. Primary effects occur as a direct result of the ground shaking, eg buildings collapsing. Secondary effects occur as a result of the primary effects, eg tsunamis or fires due to ruptured gas mains.

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Location

Haiti is a small island located in the Caribbean, South East of the USA and East of Cuba.  Its capital city is Port-au-Prince.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Causes

The earthquake was caused by 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 other.  The pressure that was built up because of the friction between the 2 plates was eventually released causing a magnitude 7 earthquake on the Richter Scale with an epicentre 16 miles West of Port-au-Prince and a shallow focus of 5 miles.  The earthquake struck at 16:53 (4:53pm) local time on Tuesday 12 January 2010.

Effects

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Primary (caused directly by the earthquake)

Secondary (result from primary effects)

316,000 people were killed and 1 million people were made homeless.  3 million people were affected by the earthquake1 in 5 people lost their jobs because so many buildings were destroyed.  Haiti’s largest industry, clothing was one of the worst affected
250,000 homes and 30,000 other buildings, including the President’s Palace and 60% of government buildings, were either destroyed or badly damagedThe large number of deaths meant that hospitals and morgues became full and bodies then had to be piled up on the streets
Transport and communication links were also badly damaged by the earthquakeThe large number of bodies meant that diseases, especially cholera, became a serious problem
Hospitals (50+) and schools (1,300+) were badly damaged, as was the airport’s control towerIt was difficult getting aid into the area because of issues at the airport and generally poor management of the situation
The main prison was destroyed and 4,000 inmates escapedPeople were squashed into shanty towns or onto the streets because their homes had been destroyed leading to poor sanitation and health, and looting became a real problem

Development

Development Indicator

Value

GDP per capita (average income)$1,200 per person each year
People living in poverty80% of people live on $2 or less per day
Life expectancy62 years old
People per doctor0.25 doctors per 1,000 people
Adult literacy rate53% over 15 years old can read/write
Access to clean water46% of people have access to clean water

Responses

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Short Term

Long Term

$100 million in aid given by the USA and $330 million by the European Union98% of the rubble on the roads hadn’t been cleared restricting aid access
810,000 people placed in aid camps1 million people still without houses after 1 year so still have to live in aid camps
115,000 tents and 1,000,000+ tarpaulin shelters providedSupport for people without jobs, which equates to nearly 70% of the population, through cash/food-for-work projects
Healthcare supplies provided to limit diseaseTemporary schools created and new teachers trainee
Lack of immediate aid through poor planning, management and access meant that people had to try and rescue each otherWater and sanitation eventually supplied for 1.7 million people
4.3 million people provided with food rations in the weeks following the earthquake

Useful Documents

Primary and secondary effects of the Haiti earthquake

Links

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