Haiti Earthquake Case Study

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  • Created by: Fiona
  • Created on: 15-05-13 18:13

Location and Hazard

It happened on 22nd January 2010

Haiti is an LEDC found between the Caribbean Sea and the North American Sea

The epicentre was 10km south-west of the capital, Port-au-Prince

The focus was 15km deep, which is shallow

Occured at a transform plate boundary involving the Caribbean and North American plates

There were over 10 aftershocks that measured 5.5 - 5.9 on the Richter scale

One reason for the devastation caused was that homes were not built to withstand such a force

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Physical Impacts

The severe shaking caused buildings to collapse - it was reported 90% of the buildings in Léogâne, a port town, had been destroyed and 250,000 residencies in Haiti were so badly damaged they had to be destroyed

Landslides disrupted roads across Haiti and this made access to the city extremely difficult - the main road linking Port-au-Prince with Jacmel, another city in Haiti, remained blocked for 10 days

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Social Impacts

300,000 people were injured

600,000 people left Port-au-Prince 

There was much social unrest, with looting and crime, made worse because prisoners escaped from the prison and there were no police, so it developed into a lawless society

There were major shortages of food and clean water

The enormous quantity of dead people meant the morgue facilities soon became overwhelmed and by 14th Jan 1000 bodies were lying on the pavements - this created health problems (made worse by the heat and humidity) and upset - in an attempt to control the problem, mass graves were dug but this caused further problems because it was seen as desecration as there was no diginity

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Demographic Impacts

The death toll reached 230,000 The old and the young were affected because they were more susceptible to dehydration and disease  There was a loss in the number of the young, active and strong workforce in Port-au-Prince as many of them As a result of all of this, the population structure in the city changed

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Economic Impacts

Reconstruction costs equalled between $8 - $14 billion They relied on aid from foreign governments - for example the EU pledged to give $604 million There was an inablility to function as a country and to earn money because most industrial buildings in Port-au-Prince were destroyed Support services, for example the army, the police and the support agencies, cost a lot of money

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Short-Term Responses

International rescue teams quickly went to Haiti to provide support, for example teams from the UK and France

The international teams used special equipment to help in the search for survivors - for example thermal imaging equipment

To help with medical aid, the USA sent a hospital ship and field hospitals were sent from several countires e.g. Russia and Israel (this was necessary as all the hospitals were destroyed as were 2 medical facilities run by médécin sans frontiers)

There were issues with the distribution of food and water - by the 5th day, the World Food Programme had only fed 13,000 out of the 3 million who needed help

Aid groups helped deal with food and water issues - aid groups distributed 400,000 water bottles and there were 15 distribution points handing out high energy biscuits

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Long-Term Responses

International support was provided to 100,000 people in 30 camps

250,000 people returned to Port-au-Prince because there was not enough rural work available

In November 2010, a cholera epidemic broke out (this is thought to have been caused by the foreign aid workers) - this was due to not enough access to clean water and a lack of proper sanitation

The International Rescue Community is still working with the displaced and the poor, they have built safe water points, they have provided education on disease and solar lights were established in areas where women were vulnerable to try and reduce the risk of crimes against females

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Response Problems

The airport was overloaded because there was only one runway - initially flights had to be diverted to Dominican Republic

Medical care was made harder because all the hospitals in Haiti were destroyed as were 2 of the medical facilities of Médécin Sans Frontières

There was poor access to supplies

No electricity for 5 days

Mobile phone masts were destroyed, making any communications very difficult

Gas pipes fractured

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