Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Haiti compared to Japan

Haiti compared to Japan:

The 2010 earthquake in Haiti had a magnitude 7 compared to Japan's 8.9 magnitude earthquake, which released more than 1000 times the energy than what occurred in Haiti.  However, more than 200,000 people were killed in Haiti compared to the greater than 10,000 in Japan just recently, as a result of the earthquake.  The reason why so many were killed in Haiti was because Japan was prepared.  Japan is one of the most earthquake prepared countries, while Haiti was far from being prepared.

Haiti 2010 earthquake.  Source: Google Images

Japan 2011 earthquake.  Source: Kyodo/Reuters
Japan invests research into understanding the processes of earthquakes and creates infrastructure that is better  to withstand effects.  You can see in the above two pictures that most of Japan's buildings are still standing, compared to the infrastructure in Haiti, where the buildings are collapsed or soon will be.
They also have an adequate warning system in place.  Seismic networks that record waves in the earth, provide a tsunami warning system and an earthquake warning system that can gives tens of seconds warning.
Haiti, however does not have the money that Japan does to invest in earthquake prevention.  Unfortunately, Haiti has virtually no building codes.  The primary cause of deaths as a result of the earthquake in Haiti was the collapse of buildings that where not built to survive a strong earthquake. 


  1. Both of the pictures still look devastating to me. You talk about the warning systems in Japan; do you know if the public received any warning? I image not since the earthquake was close to civilization.

    I hope in the future building of infustructure around the world that engineers and contruction will think more about natural diasters, designing more prepared buildings, bridges, roads,...etc

  2. Both of the cases were disastrous. It appears though that the lack of building codes in Haiti proved to cause more death due to structures collapsing.

  3. I think we also have to acknowledge that Japan is a developed country with an advanced economy, and that they have earthquakes all the time (literally--earthquakes are a fact of life). There are so many competing demands on Haiti, and it has so little in the way of infrastructure and capacity, that it is hard to make the comparison stick.

    Now, too, we know that the death toll in Japan could near 20,000. So we'll have to see how this shakes out.