Tectonic plates rub up against each other due to the transform movement, creating friction. Eventually, that friction builds up to the extent where it needs to be released, thus creating an earthquake. One of these earthquakes ended up being one of the most devastating natural disasters of the 21st century — the Haiti earthquake of 2010. The Haiti earthquake happened on Tuesday, January 1st, 2010, at the epicenter at 4:53 pm EST. The epicenter of the earthquake was just 25 kilometers from Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. This was one of the biggest reasons for the high death tolls.
Haiti has always been visited often by earthquakes. The capital itself, Port-au-Prince, is established directly upon a giant fault on the Caribbean fault, making the country as a whole very vulnerable to this particular natural disaster. The Haiti Earthquake of 2010 was at such a large scale because the fault has met few earthquakes in the preceding 40 years—the friction built up to a great extent, and the magnitude was extremely high during the release. The magnitude was 7.0 MW, considered extremely high when compared to minor earthquakes.
Since the epicenter was right beside the country’s capital and largest city, Haiti suffered excruciatingly from the earthquake. The earthquake shook the entire nation. Many major buildings, including the Presidential Palace, the city’s Cathedral, the main jail, and the National Assembly, were damaged significantly. Many buildings collapsed and killed citizens in the process. Many infrastructures that may have been able to respond to the disaster, including hospitals, transport facilities, and communication centres, were destroyed and useless. Many major roads in the capital were blocked by the rubble and dead bodies. Because of the country’s low construction standards, the government estimated that 90 percent of Port-au-Prince’s buildings have been destroyed. As a result, many were homeless and wandered through the streets, searching for lost relatives and friends. The earthquake also managed to create a landslide dam on the Rivière de Grand Goâve, which is, by 2012, still not completely dealt with.
The earthquake struck the most populated part of the country, creating maximum damage. In February 2012, the Haitian government raised the estimated death toll of 230,000. Then numbers were raised again, this time to over 316,000, one year after the disaster. However, the exact number is uncertain because of all the lost bodies that have never been discovered.
Haiti is the poorest country in the entire Western hemisphere. The United Nations considers the country as “economically vulnerable”, and unable to deal with major disasters. This was proven during the Haiti Earthquake of 2010. Many countries over the world rushed to rescue at the moment right after the disaster. An estimated $4.5 billion USD had been raised by organizations, donators, companies, the governments. Canada donated $6.8 million USD, ranking 8th in donation amount. A little over half of the financial aid has been used by the Haitian government by January 2012. The government will continue to use the funds to recover from the earthquakes today, 2 years after the disaster.