The Eartnquake in Haiti in 2010

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Words: 935 |

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5 min read

Published: May 24, 2022

Words: 935|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: May 24, 2022

On January 12, 2010, an earthquake of magnitude 7.0 hit the Republic of Haiti, a Caribbean island at 18.9˚N and 72.3˚W, 3170km East of Mexico. It struck 15-25km west of the capital, Port-au-Prince, at 4:53pm local time. Occurring only 6.2 miles (9.98km) beneath the surface, its effects were devastating, affecting 3 million people.The Inter-American Development Bank estimated this would rise to as much as $13.9 billion over time. This made it the costliest earthquake event in terms of the percentage of a country’s gross domestic product, as it cost approximately 100-200% of Haiti’s GDP.

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Haiti has a limited history of earthquakes. The only notable earthquake Haiti suffered from before 2010 was the 8.1 magnitude earthquake in 1946. Its epicentre was located in the Dominican Republic and the tremors extended into Haiti.

The earthquake was caused by the movement of the transform boundary between the Caribbean and North American tectonic plates. As the two plates slid in an east-west direction in what is referred to as a strike-slip boundary, this type of tectonic movement caused movement to build up along areas on the boundary. The pressure was finally released, and the sudden movement of the plates caused tremors to be sent along the Earth’s crust. The fault system that ruptured to cause the Haiti earthquake is known as the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault system. Approximately 200,000 people dead and 300,000 injured.

Between $11.5 billion AUD and $12.5 billion AUD in damage, possibly $20.46 billion AUD in time. Emergency responses generated heavy amounts of medical waste that built up within hospitals and medical treatment centres.

1.3 million homeless citizens, due to damaged infrastructure.

Shrank GDP by 5.1%. Population displacement (greater population density in regions further from the epicentre of the quake) caused strain on local resources.

Drew international attention to the already struggling island and inspired many large donations, done mostly through credit cards, of which most companies waived the interchange fee (including Capital One, Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover). Deepened job crisis in Haiti, where already 70% were unemployed. Jobless people also search for and receive free services that disrupt the local market. Water contaminated with diseases, chemicals, oil and rubble. Prior to the disaster, Haiti was the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. With a poor socioeconomic standing and a limited history of large seismic tremors, the citizens of Haiti were vulnerable to the earthquake. Small exports and poor economic performance lead to the state of poverty in which Haiti was in. A lack of enforced building code resulted in many multi-story, poorly constructed buildings, of which many collapsed. Its weak economy lead to a poor standard of life and education system, which amplified the damage caused by the disaster.

The environmental degradation further deteriorated the state of the country. Due to the low income of the island’s citizens, many found trees as a source of cooking fuel. This intensive logging lead to the shrinkage of the forests, which now cover less than 3% of Haiti’s land. This deterioration of natural surroundings and resources increased Haiti’s vulnerability to natural disasters. Agricultural income also lowered, adding to the aforementioned economic problems. The environmental declination has plagued the recovery from the disaster in more ways than one.

However, the earthquake lead to some positive effects. Due to the widespread media representation, much attention was drawn to the poor state of the country and many donated to help its causes. This initial international response raised over $13 billion and brought more attention towards the other problems Haiti was facing. Although there was extensive media coverage of Haiti and its issues, and many large donations made, the long-term recovery process was ineffective in terms of the current state of Haiti. As of 2018, its total external debt was $3.83 billion AUD. In 2017, there were still over 50,000 individuals living in displacement camps erected after the earthquake. After the quake, a new hospital was promised by the US and French governments to be fully constructed by 2016 but is still currently undergoing construction. Reportedly, there is not much movement within the construction site, and there is a severe lack of hygiene in existing hospitals. This is only one example of the changing attitude of other countries towards Haiti, with the US president Donald Trump referring to the country as a “[cen]hole country” in 2018, after he had promised to be its “greatest champion” in 2016. Overall, although many actions were taken and plans put in place to help Haiti recover, it was ineffective to the quality of life in Haiti, and many agreements made were not fully fulfilled, leaving Haiti an in-debt, impoverished country still suffering from the long-term effects of a major natural disaster.

The impacts of the disaster were magnified by Haiti’s poor infrastructure. To reduce the effects of these causes in similar future disasters, “earthquake-proof” designs should be implemented into building structures, especially important ones such as schools or hospitals, and taller buildings which would cause major damage if collapse. An example of this is lead-rubber bearings, which are building foundations that include the use of a lead core, rubber housing and steel plates. This design helps reflect seismic waves and reduces the building’s susceptibility to vibrations.

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A source of help for Haiti, although not completely effective, was international aid. Increasing relations between countries and having an international database where seismic information is shared could help provide warnings to other countries of when a disaster may strike. Other countries then have more time to prepare for the aid they may send. Having more international awareness of these events will also increase media coverage, which, as shown during the Haiti earthquake, produced positive effects on the number of donations given.

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The Eartnquake In Haiti In 2010. (2022, May 24). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 29, 2024, from
“The Eartnquake In Haiti In 2010.” GradesFixer, 24 May 2022,
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