There was a massive 7.0 Mag quake that did a real number on Christchurch NZ last week. There was also a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated Haiti last year.
Both are magnitude 7.0, both hit a population center, yet the death toll in NZ was ZERO, the death toll in Haiti was 230,000.
Port au Prince was founded in the 1740’s while Christchurch was founded a century later. Even by the 1850’s buildings weren’t that different, and newer buildings would have been in pace. Besides the massive amount of deaths in Haiti, the other striking difference is that there was $2USD billion damage in New Zealand, and $20USD Billion in Haiti
So lets go here for an on the ground report:
Learning from past earthquakes (especially the magnitude 7.8 Napier earthquake in 1931), New Zealand has implemented stringent building codes. Modern homes are generally of timber-frame construction, which flex and absorb the energy of an earthquake. Modern commercial and office buildings are generally constructed with isolated foundations, while many historic buildings have been retrofitted with earthquake dampening devices. New Zealand is now a world leader in earthquake engineering.
Still, there was significant damage in Christchurch, most often to older un-reinforced brick structures, and in areas where liquefaction amplified the ground shaking. And of course, there was major damage to the water and sewerage infrastructure, and disruptions to power supply and transportation networks.
The rebuilding cost in Canterbury is currently estimated at over @2 billion (NZ), compared to over $20 billion for the rebuilding efforts in Haiti.
Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world, and does not benefit from stringent building codes. Construction practices are substandard and earthquake-proof buildings are few. An estimated 250,000 residences were destroyed or severely damaged in Haiti, leaving nearly 1 million people homeless. Even such important buildings as the Presidential Palace and National Assembly did not withstand the severity of the shaking. The collapse of buildings in Haiti led to tens of thousands of people being buried under rubble, or trapped inside unsafe structures.
Essential services were decimated. Infrastructure vital to the disaster response was severely damaged, meaning that people could not get the help that they needed in time. The loss of hospitals, major roads, rail links, harbours, and communication networks severely hampered rescue and relief efforts. Without sufficient aid, thirst, famine, looting, and eventually disease took a terrible toll.