Posted on Jan 14, 2010 by Sergio Ulloa
On Tuesday January 12 2010, the Island nation of Haiti suffered a major disaster in the form of an earthquake
measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale
. Although there is no threat of a Tsunami, the country has continued to be ravaged by aftershocks after the primary incident, some of which have measured as high as 6.0 on the Richter scale. Red Cross estimates indicate that as many as 3 million people have been affected while the cost of the damage caused by the quake could exceed billions of dollars. The quake was the worst natural disaster to strike Haiti in 200 years.
Earthquakes, one of the most damaging natural disasters which a nation can face, are caused by the movement of the Earth's crust in the form of tectonic plates. These plates will often rub and grind against each other (which is how mountain chains such as the Rockies formed) often resulting in tremors or vibrations. These vibrations are what are colloquially referred to as Earthquakes.
Depending on the severity of the quake in question, and the standard of construction in the country where the quake occurs, the most common type of damage
associated with this type of disaster is property damage and loss; which can consequently result in the loss of human life. Common human injuries associated with Earthquakes often include cuts, broken bones, crush injuries, and dehydration from being trapped in rubble. However, it is important to note that with every natural disaster the scope of injuries, and the impact on a populace, will be largely dependent on the time of the incident, population density, and the quality of construction/housing in the area in question.
On the 17th of January 1994 the Northridge Earthquake, measuring 6.9 on the Richter Scale, struck Los Angeles. As a result of the quake roadways, utilities, and private property throughout the greater L.A. area were severely damaged and a total of 171 people sought treatment at L.A. hospitals for earthquake related injuries.
The injuries experienced by the L.A. population during the 1994 earthquake were wide and varied. Of the 171 people injured, 33 were fatalities while 138 required hospital admission. There were no statistical differences between the injuries received by men and women, although the prevalence for an individual suffering an injury during the quake was shown to increase with age. Most of the fatalities of the Northridge Earthquake were due to the collapse of buildings on people, which resulted in head or chest injuries, and consequently death. The majority of non-fatal hospital admissions were due to an individual falling, or being hit on the head by falling objects. Motor vehicle injuries, including burns, were also common among those survivors admitted to hospital - this was in part due to the extensive damage suffered by the city's road network.
At the time of writing, details on the Haiti Earthquake are still coming in. Haitian government officials estimate that the final death toll may exceed 100,000 people
while hospitals in the country are struggling to cope with the deluge of patients waiting to receive treatment. Considering that the standard of construction in Haiti is significantly lower than the standards in the USA, and that the Haitian quake was 0.1 times stronger than the Northridge incident, it can be expected that the damage will be wider and worse in Haiti.