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Haiti Earthquake Case Study 2010 Cars

The 2010 Haiti earthquake (French: Séisme de 2010 à Haïti; Haitian Creole: Tranblemanntè 12 janvye 2010 nan peyi Ayiti) was a catastrophicmagnitude 7.0 Mw earthquake, with an epicenter near the town of Léogâne (Ouest), approximately 25 kilometres (16 mi) west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital. The earthquake occurred at 16:53 local time (21:53 UTC) on Tuesday, 12 January 2010.[6][7]

By 24 January, at least 52 aftershocks measuring 4.5 or greater had been recorded.[8] An estimated three million people were affected by the quake.[9] Death toll estimates range from 100,000[5] to about 160,000[4] to Haitian government figures from 220,000[10][11] to 316,000; these have been widely characterized as deliberately inflated by the Haitian government.[3] The government of Haiti estimated that 250,000 residences and 30,000 commercial buildings had collapsed or were severely damaged.[12] The nation's history of national debt, prejudicial trade policies by other countries, and foreign intervention into national affairs, contributed to the existing poverty and poor housing conditions that increased the death toll from the disaster.[13]

The earthquake caused major damage in Port-au-Prince, Jacmel and other cities in the region. Notable landmark buildings were significantly damaged or destroyed, including the Presidential Palace, the National Assembly building, the Port-au-Prince Cathedral, and the main jail. Among those killed were Archbishop of Port-au-PrinceJoseph Serge Miot,[14] and opposition leader Micha Gaillard.[15][16] The headquarters of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), located in the capital, collapsed, killing many, including the Mission's Chief, Hédi Annabi.[17][18]

Many countries responded to appeals for humanitarian aid, pledging funds and dispatching rescue and medical teams, engineers and support personnel. Communication systems, air, land, and sea transport facilities, hospitals, and electrical networks had been damaged by the earthquake, which hampered rescue and aid efforts; confusion over who was in charge, air traffic congestion, and problems with prioritising flights further complicated early relief work. Port-au-Prince's morgues were overwhelmed with tens of thousands of bodies. These had to be buried in mass graves.[19]

As rescues tailed off, supplies, medical care and sanitation became priorities. Delays in aid distribution led to angry appeals from aid workers and survivors, and looting and sporadic violence were observed. On 22 January the United Nations noted that the emergency phase of the relief operation was drawing to a close, and on the following day, the Haitian government officially called off the search for survivors.


The island of Hispaniola, shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic, is seismically active and has a history of destructive earthquakes. During Haiti's time as a French colony, earthquakes were recorded by French historian Moreau de Saint-Méry (1750–1819). He described damage done by an earthquake in 1751, writing that "only one masonry building had not collapsed" in Port-au-Prince; he also wrote that the "whole city collapsed" in the 1770 Port-au-Prince earthquake. Cap-Haïtien, other towns in the north of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and the Sans-Souci Palace were destroyed during an earthquake on 7 May 1842.[20] A magnitude 8.0 earthquake struck the Dominican Republic and shook Haiti on 4 August 1946, producing a tsunami that killed 1,790 people and injured many others.[21]

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and is ranked 149th of 182 countries on the Human Development Index.[22] The Australian government's travel advisory site had previously expressed concerns that Haitian emergency services would be unable to cope in the event of a major disaster,[23] and the country is considered "economically vulnerable" by the Food and Agriculture Organization.[24] Haiti is no stranger to natural disasters. In addition to earthquakes, it has been struck frequently by tropical cyclones, which have caused flooding and widespread damage. The most recent cyclones to hit the island before the earthquake were Tropical Storm Fay and Hurricanes Gustav, Hanna and Ike, all in the summer of 2008, causing nearly 800 deaths.[25]


The magnitude 7.0 Mw earthquake occurred inland, on 12 January 2010 at 16:53 (UTC-05:00), approximately 25 km (16 mi) WSW from Port-au-Prince at a depth of 13 km (8.1 mi)[6] on blind thrust faults associated with the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault system.[26] There is no evidence of surface rupture and based on seismological, geological and ground deformation data it is thought that the earthquake did not involve significant lateral slip on the main Enriquillo fault.[27] Strong shaking associated with intensity IX on the Modified Mercalli scale (MM) was recorded in Port-au-Prince and its suburbs. It was also felt in several surrounding countries and regions, including Cuba (MM III in Guantánamo), Jamaica (MM II in Kingston), Venezuela (MM II in Caracas), Puerto Rico (MM II–III in San Juan), and the bordering Dominican Republic (MM III in Santo Domingo).[29] According to estimates from the United States Geological Survey, approximately 3.5 million people lived in the area that experienced shaking intensity of MM VII to X, a range that can cause moderate to very heavy damage even to earthquake-resistant structures. Shaking damage was more severe than for other quakes of similar magnitude due to the shallow depth of the quake.[30][31]

The quake occurred in the vicinity of the northern boundary where the Caribbeantectonic plate shifts eastwards by about 20 mm (0.79 in) per year in relation to the North American plate. The strike-slip fault system in the region has two branches in Haiti, the Septentrional-Oriente fault in the north and the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault in the south; both its location and focal mechanism suggested that the January 2010 quake was caused by a rupture of the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault, which had been locked for 250 years, gathering stress.[32] However, a study published in May 2010 suggested that the rupture process may have involved slip on multiple blind thrust faults with only minor, deep, lateral slip along or near the main Enriquillo–Plantain Garden fault zone, suggesting that the event only partially relieved centuries of accumulated left-lateral strain on a small part of the plate-boundary system.[27] The rupture was roughly 65 km (40 mi) long with mean slip of 1.8 metres (5 ft 11 in).[33] Preliminary analysis of the slip distribution found amplitudes of up to about 4 m (13 ft) using ground motion records from all over the world.[34][35]

A 2007 earthquake hazard study by C. DeMets and M. Wiggins-Grandison noted that the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault zone could be at the end of its seismic cycle and concluded that a worst-case forecast would involve a 7.2 Mw earthquake, similar in size to the 1692 Jamaica earthquake.[36] Paul Mann and a group including the 2006 study team presented a hazard assessment of the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault system to the 18th Caribbean Geologic Conference in March 2008, noting the large strain; the team recommended "high priority" historical geologic rupture studies, as the fault was fully locked and had recorded few earthquakes in the preceding 40 years.[37] An article published in Haiti's Le Matin newspaper in September 2008 cited comments by geologist Patrick Charles to the effect that there was a high risk of major seismic activity in Port-au-Prince.[38]


The United States Geological Survey (USGS) recorded eight aftershocks in the two hours after the main earthquake, with magnitudes between 4.3 and 5.9.[39] Within the first nine hours 32 aftershocks of magnitude 4.2 or greater were recorded, 12 of which measured magnitude 5.0 or greater, and on 24 January USGS reported that there had been 52 aftershocks measuring 4.5 or greater since the main quake.[39]

On 20 January at 06:03 local time (11:03 UTC) the strongest aftershock since the earthquake,[40] measuring magnitude 5.9 Mw, struck Haiti.[41] USGS reported its epicenter was about 56 km (35 mi) WSW of Port-au-Prince,[39] which would place it almost exactly under the coastal town of Petit-Goâve. A UN representative reported that the aftershock collapsed seven buildings in the town.[42] According to staff of the International Committee of the Red Cross, which had reached Petit-Goâve for the first time the day before the aftershock, the town was estimated to have lost 15% of its buildings, and was suffering the same shortages of supplies and medical care as the capital.[43] Workers from the charity Save the Children reported hearing "already weakened structures collapsing" in Port-au-Prince,[40] but most sources reported no further significant damage to infrastructure in the city. Further casualties are thought to have been minimal since people had been sleeping in the open.[42] There are concerns that the main earthquake could be the beginning of a new long-term sequence: "the whole region is fearful"; historical accounts, although not precise, suggest that there has been a sequence of quakes progressing westwards along the fault, starting with an earthquake in the Dominican Republic in 1751.[44]


The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami warning immediately after the initial quake,[45] but quickly cancelled it.[46] Nearly two weeks later it was reported that the beach of the small fishing town of Petit Paradis was hit by a localised tsunami shortly after the earthquake, probably as a result of an underwater slide, and this was later confirmed by researchers.[2] At least three people were swept out to sea by the wave and were reported dead. Witnesses told reporters that the sea first retreated and a "very big wave" followed rapidly, crashing ashore and sweeping boats and debris into the ocean.[47]

Damage to infrastructure

Main article: Damage to infrastructure in the 2010 Haiti earthquake

Essential services

Amongst the widespread devastation and damage throughout Port-au-Prince and elsewhere, vital infrastructure necessary to respond to the disaster was severely damaged or destroyed. This included all hospitals in the capital; air, sea, and land transport facilities; and communication systems.

The quake affected the three Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) medical facilities around Port-au-Prince, causing one to collapse completely.[48][49] A hospital in Pétion-Ville, a wealthy suburb of Port-au-Prince, also collapsed,[50] as did the St. Michel District Hospital in the southern town of Jacmel,[51] which was the largest referral hospital in south-east Haiti.[52]

The quake seriously damaged the control tower at Toussaint L'Ouverture International Airport.[53] Damage to the Port-au-Prince seaport[54] rendered the harbor unusable for immediate rescue operations; its container crane subsided severely at an angle because of weak foundations. Gonaïves seaport in northern Haiti remained operational.[54]

Roads were blocked with road debris or the surfaces broken. The main road linking Port-au-Prince with Jacmel remained blocked ten days after the earthquake, hampering delivery of aid to Jacmel. When asked why the road had not been opened, Hazem el-Zein, head of the south-east division of the UN World Food Programme said that "We ask the same questions to the people in charge...They promise rapid response. To be honest, I don't know why it hasn't been done. I can only think that their priority must be somewhere else."[51]

There was considerable damage to communications infrastructure. The public telephone system was not available,[45] and two of Haiti's largest cellular telephone providers, Digicel[55] and Comcel Haiti,[56] both reported that their services had been affected by the earthquake. Fibre-optic connectivity was also disrupted.[57] According to Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), Radio Lumière, which broadcasts out of Port-au-Prince and reaches 90% of Haiti, was initially knocked off the air, but it was able to resume broadcasting across most of its network within a week. According to RSF, some 20 of about 50 stations that were active in the capital region before the earthquake were back on air a week after the quake.[58]

General infrastructure

In February 2010 Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive estimated that 250,000 residences and 30,000 commercial buildings were severely damaged and needed to be demolished.[12] The deputy mayor of Léogâne reported that 90% of the town's buildings had been destroyed.[59] Many government and public buildings were damaged or destroyed including the Palace of Justice, the National Assembly, the Supreme Court and Port-au-Prince Cathedral.[60][61] The National Palace was severely damaged,[62][63] though PresidentRené Préval and his wife Elisabeth Delatour Préval escaped injury.[64][65] The Prison Civile de Port-au-Prince was also destroyed, allowing around 4,000 inmates to escape.[66]

Most of Port-au-Prince's municipal buildings were destroyed or heavily damaged, including the City Hall, which was described by the Washington Post as, "a skeletal hulk of concrete and stucco, sagging grotesquely to the left."[67] Port-au-Prince had no municipal petrol reserves and few city officials had working mobile phones before the earthquake, complicating communications and transportation.[67]

Minister of Education Joel Jean-Pierre stated that the education system had "totally collapsed". About half the nation's schools and the three main universities in Port-au-Prince were affected.[68] More than 1,300 schools and 50 health care facilities were destroyed.[69]

The earthquake also destroyed a nursing school in the capital and severely damaged the country's primary midwifery school.[70] The Haitian art world suffered great losses; artworks were destroyed, and museums and art galleries were extensively damaged, among them Port-au-Prince's main art museum, Centre d'Art, College Saint Pierre and Holy Trinity Cathedral.[71]

The headquarters of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) at Christopher Hotel[17] and offices of the World Bank were destroyed.[72] The building housing the offices of Citibank in Port-au-Prince collapsed, killing five employees.[73] The clothing industry, which accounts for two-thirds of Haiti's exports,[74] reported structural damage at manufacturing facilities.[75]

The quake created a landslide dam on the Rivière de Grand Goâve. As of February 2010[update] the water level was low, but engineer Yves Gattereau believed the dam could collapse during the rainy season, which would flood Grand-Goâve 12 km (7.5 mi) downstream.[76]

Conditions in the aftermath

See also: 2010 Haiti cholera outbreak

In the nights following the earthquake, many people in Haiti slept in the streets, on pavements, in their cars, or in makeshift shanty towns either because their houses had been destroyed, or they feared standing structures would not withstand aftershocks.[77] Construction standards are low in Haiti; the country has no building codes. Engineers have stated that it is unlikely many buildings would have stood through any kind of disaster. Structures are often raised wherever they can fit; some buildings were built on slopes with insufficient foundations or steel supports.[78] A representative of Catholic Relief Services has estimated that about two million Haitians lived as squatters on land they did not own. The country also suffered from shortages of fuel and potable water even before the disaster.[79]

President Préval and government ministers used police headquarters near the Toussaint L'Ouverture International Airport as their new base of operations, although their effectiveness was extremely limited; several parliamentarians were still trapped in the Presidential Palace, and offices and records had been destroyed.[80] Some high-ranking government workers lost family members, or had to tend to wounded relatives. Although the president and his remaining cabinet met with UN planners each day, there remained confusion as to who was in charge and no single group had organized relief efforts as of 16 January.[81] The government handed over control of the airport to the United States to hasten and ease flight operations, which had been hampered by the damage to the air traffic control tower.[82]

Almost immediately Port-au-Prince's morgue facilities were overwhelmed. By 14 January, a thousand bodies had been placed on the streets and pavements. Government crews manned trucks to collect thousands more, burying them in mass graves.[83] In the heat and humidity, corpses buried in rubble began to decompose and smell. Mati Goldstein, head of the Israeli ZAKA International Rescue Unit delegation to Haiti, described the situation as "Shabbat from hell. Everywhere, the acrid smell of bodies hangs in the air. It's just like the stories we are told of the Holocaust – thousands of bodies everywhere. You have to understand that the situation is true madness, and the more time passes, there are more and more bodies, in numbers that cannot be grasped. It is beyond comprehension."[84][85]

Mayor Jean-Yves Jason said that officials argued for hours about what to do with the volume of corpses. The government buried many in mass graves, some above-ground tombs were forced open so bodies could be stacked inside, and others were burned.[86] Mass graves were dug in a large field outside the settlement of Titanyen, north of the capital; tens of thousands of bodies were reported as having been brought to the site by dump truck and buried in trenches dug by earth movers.[87]Max Beauvoir, a Vodou priest, protested the lack of dignity in mass burials, stating, "... it is not in our culture to bury people in such a fashion, it is desecration".[88][89]

Towns in the eastern Dominican Republic began preparing for tens of thousands of refugees, and by 16 January hospitals close to the border had been filled to capacity with Haitians. Some began reporting having expended stocks of critical medical supplies such as antibiotics by 17 January.[90] The border was reinforced by Dominican soldiers, and the government of the Dominican Republic asserted that all Haitians who crossed the border for medical assistance would be allowed to stay only temporarily. A local governor stated, "We have a great desire and we will do everything humanly possible to help Haitian families. But we have our limitations with respect to food and medicine. We need the helping hand of other countries in the area."[91][92]

Slow distribution of resources in the days after the earthquake resulted in sporadic violence, with looting reported.[93] There were also accounts of looters wounded or killed by vigilantes and neighbourhoods that had constructed their own roadblock barricades.[94][95] Dr Evan Lyon of Partners in Health, working at the General Hospital in Port-au-Prince, claimed that misinformation and overblown reports of violence had hampered the delivery of aid and medical services.[96][97]

Former US president Bill Clinton acknowledged the problems and said Americans should "not be deterred from supporting the relief effort" by upsetting scenes such as those of looting.[66][98] Lt. Gen. P.K. Keen, deputy commander of US Southern Command, however, announced that despite the stories of looting and violence, there was less violent crime in Port-au-Prince after the earthquake than before.[99]

In many neighbourhoods, singing could be heard through the night and groups of men coordinated to act as security as groups of women attempted to take care of food and hygiene necessities.[100] During the days following the earthquake, hundreds were seen marching through the streets in peaceful processions, singing and clapping.[101]

The earthquake caused an urgent need for outside rescuers to communicate with Haitians whose main or only language is Haitian Creole. As a result, a mobile translation program to translate between English and Haitian Creole had to be written quickly.


Main article: Casualties of the 2010 Haiti earthquake

The earthquake struck in the most populated area of the country. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies estimated that as many as 3 million people had been affected by the quake.[9] In mid February 2010, the Haitian government reported the death toll to have reached 230,000.[102] However, an investigation by Radio Netherlands has questioned the official death toll, reporting an estimate of 92,000 deaths as being a more realistic figure.[103] On the first anniversary of the earthquake, 12 January 2011, Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said the death toll from the quake was more than 316,000, raising the figures from previous estimates.[104]

Several experts have questioned the validity of the death toll numbers; Anthony Penna, professor emeritus in environmental history at Northeastern University, warned that casualty estimates could only be a "guesstimate",[105] and Belgian disaster response expert Claude de Ville de Goyet noted that "round numbers are a sure sign that nobody knows."[106]Edmond Mulet, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said, "I do not think we will ever know what the death toll is from this earthquake",[106] while the director of the Haitian Red Cross, Jean-Pierre Guiteau, noted that his organization had not had the time to count bodies, as their focus had been on the treatment of survivors.[106]

While the vast majority of casualties were Haitian civilians, the dead included aid workers, embassy staff, foreign tourists—and a number of public figures, including Archbishop of Port-au-Prince Monsignor Joseph Serge Miot,[14] aid worker Zilda Arns and officials in the Haitian government, including opposition leader Michel "Micha" Gaillard.[15] Also killed were a number of well-known Haitian musicians[107] and sports figures, including thirty members of the Fédération Haïtienne de Football.[108] At least 85 United Nations personnel working with MINUSTAH were killed,[109] among them the Mission Chief, Hédi Annabi, his deputy, Luiz Carlos da Costa,[18] and police commissioner Douglas Coates. Around 200 guests were killed in the collapse of the Hôtel Montana in Port-au-Prince.[110]

On 31 May 2011, an unreleased draft report based on a survey commissioned by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) challenged the Haiti earthquake death toll and several damage estimates. The unpublished report put the death toll between 46,000 and 85,000 and put the number of displaced persons at 895,000, of which only 375,000 remained in temporary shelters. The unreleased report, which compiled its figures from a door-to-door survey, was done by a Washington consulting firm, LTL Strategies. A US State Department spokesperson said the report had inconsistencies and would not be released until they were resolved.[111] As of January 2012, USAID has not released the report and states at its website that 1.5 million people were displaced, of which 550,000 remain without permanent shelter.[112] The most reliable academic estimate of the number of earthquake casualties in Haiti (over 95% were in the immediate Port-au-Prince area) "within six weeks of the earthquake" appears to be the 160,000 estimate in a 2010 University of Michigan study.[4]

Early response

Main articles: Humanitarian response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Humanitarian response by national governments to the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Humanitarian response by non-governmental organizations to the 2010 Haiti earthquake, and Humanitarian response by for-profit organizations to the 2010 Haiti earthquake

Appeals for humanitarian aid were issued by many aid organizations, the United Nations[113] and president René Préval. Raymond Joseph, Haiti's ambassador to the United States,[114] and his nephew, singer Wyclef Jean,[115] who was called upon by Préval to become a "roving ambassador" for Haiti,[116] also pleaded for aid and donations. Images and testimonials circulating after the earthquake across the internet and through social media helped to intensify the reaction of global engagement.[117]

Many countries responded to the appeals and launched fund-raising efforts, as well as sending search and rescue teams. The neighbouring Dominican Republic was the first country to give aid to Haiti,[114] sending water, food and heavy-lifting machinery.[118] The hospitals in the Dominican Republic were made available; a combined effort of the Airports Department (DA), together with the Dominican Naval Auxiliaries, the UN and other parties formed the Dominican-Haitian Aerial Support Bridge, making the main Dominican airports available for support operations to Haiti. The Dominican website FlyDominicanRepublic.com[119] made available to the internet, daily updates on airport information and news from the operations center on the Dominican side.[118] The Dominican emergency team assisted more than 2,000 injured people, while the Dominican Institute of Telecommunications (Indotel) helped with the restoration of some telephone services.[118] The Dominican Red Cross coordinated early medical relief in conjunction with the International Red Cross.[118] The government sent eight mobile medical units along with 36 doctors including orthopaedic specialists, traumatologists, anaesthetists, and surgeons. In addition, 39 trucks carrying canned food were dispatched, along with 10 mobile kitchens and 110 cooks capable of producing 100,000 meals per day.[120]

Other nations from farther afield also sent personnel, medicines, materiel, and other aid to Haiti. The first team to arrive in Port-au-Prince was ICE-SAR from Iceland, landing within 24 hours of the earthquake.[121] A 50-member Chinese team arrived early Thursday morning.[122] From the Middle East, the government of Qatar sent a strategic transport aircraft (C-17), loaded with 50 tonnes of urgent relief materials and 26 members from the Qatari armed forces, the internal security force (Lekhwiya), police force and the Hamad Medical Corporation, to set up a field hospital and provide assistance in Port-au-Prince and other affected areas in Haiti.[123] A rescue team sent by the Israel Defense Forces' Home Front Command established a field hospital near the United Nations building in Port-au-Prince with specialised facilities to treat children, the elderly, and women in labor. It was set up in eight hours and began operations on the evening of 16 January.[124] A Korean International Disaster Relief Team[125] with 40 rescuers, medical doctors, nurses and 2 k-9s was deployed to epicenters to assist mitigation efforts of Haitian Government.

The American Red Cross announced on 13 January that it had run out of supplies in Haiti and appealed for public donations.[126]Giving Children Hope worked to get much-needed medicines and supplies on the ground.[127]Partners in Health (PIH), the largest health care provider in rural Haiti, was able to provide some emergency care from its ten hospitals and clinics, all of which were outside the capital and undamaged.[128] MINUSTAH had over 9,000 uniformed peacekeepers deployed to the area.[129] Most of these workers were initially involved in the search for survivors at the organization's collapsed headquarters.[130]

The International Charter on Space and Major Disasters was activated, allowing satellite imagery of affected regions to be shared with rescue and aid organizations.[131] Members of social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook spread messages and pleas to send help.[132] Facebook was overwhelmed by—and blocked—some users who were sending messages about updates.[133] The American Red Cross set a record for mobile donations, raising US$7 million in 24 hours when they allowed people to send US$10 donations by text messages.[134] The OpenStreetMap community responded to the disaster by greatly improving the level of mapping available for the area using post-earthquake satellite photography provided by GeoEye,[135] and crowdmapping website Ushahidi coordinated messages from multiple sites to assist Haitians still trapped and to keep families of survivors informed.[136] Some online poker sites hosted poker tournaments with tournament fees, prizes or both going to disaster relief charities.[137]Google Earth updated its coverage of Port-au-Prince on 17 January, showing the earthquake-ravaged city.

Easing refugee immigration into Canada was discussed by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper,[138] and in the US Haitians were granted Temporary protected status, a measure that permits about 100,000 illegal alien Haitians in the United States to stay legally for 18 months, and halts the deportations of 30,000 more, though it does not apply to Haitians outside the US.[139][140] Local and state agencies in South Florida, together with the US government, began implementing a plan ("Operation Vigilant Sentry") for a mass migration from the Caribbean that had been laid out in 2003.[141]

Several orphanages were destroyed in the earthquake. After the process for the adoption of 400 children by families in the US and the Netherlands was expedited,[142]Unicef and SOS Children urged an immediate halt to adoptions from Haiti.[143][144] Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of Save the Children said: "The vast majority of the children currently on their own still have family members alive who will be desperate to be reunited with them and will be able to care for them with the right support. Taking children out of the country would permanently separate thousands of children from their families—a separation that would compound the acute trauma they are already suffering and inflict long-term damage on their chances of recovery."[143] However, several organizations were planning an airlift of thousands of orphaned children to South Florida on humanitarian visas, modelled on a similar effort with Cuban refugees in the 1960s named "Pedro Pan".[145] The Canadian government worked to expedite around 100 adoption cases that were already underway when the earthquake struck, issuing temporary permits and waiving regular processing fees; the federal government also announced that it would cover adopted children's healthcare costs upon their arrival in Canada until they could be covered under provincially administered public healthcare plans.[146]

Rescue and relief efforts

See also: Timeline of relief efforts after the 2010 Haiti earthquake

Rescue efforts began in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, with able-bodied survivors extricating the living and the dead from the rubble of the many buildings that had collapsed.[147] Treatment of the injured was hampered by the lack of hospital and morgue facilities: the Argentine military field hospital, which had been serving MINUSTAH, was the only one available until 13 January.[148] Rescue work intensified only slightly with the arrival of doctors, police officers, military personnel and firefighters from various countries two days after the earthquake.[149]

From 12 January, the International Committee of the Red Cross, which has been working in Haiti since 1994, focused on bringing emergency assistance to victims of the catastrophe. It worked with its partners within the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, particularly the Haitian Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.[150][151]

Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders; MSF) reported that the hospitals that had not been destroyed were overwhelmed by large numbers of seriously injured people. The hospitals had to perform many amputations.[152][153] Running short of medical supplies, some teams had to work with any available resources, constructing splints out of cardboard and reusing latex gloves. Other rescue units had to withdraw as night fell, amid security fears.[154] Over 3,000 people had been treated by Médecins Sans Frontières as of 18 January.[155]Ophelia Dahl, director of Partners in Health, reported, "there are hundreds of thousands of injured people. I have heard the estimate that as many as 20,000 people will die each day that would have been saved by surgery."[156]

An MSF aircraft carrying a field hospital was repeatedly turned away[157][158] by US air traffic controllers, who had assumed control at Toussaint L'Ouverture International Airport.[159] Four other MSF aircraft were also turned away.[159] In a 19 January press release MSF said, "It is like working in a war situation. We don't have any more morphine to manage pain for our patients. We cannot accept that planes carrying lifesaving medical supplies and equipment continue to be turned away while our patients die. Priority must be given to medical supplies entering the country."[160] First responders voiced frustration with the number of relief trucks sitting unused at the airport.[161] Aid workers blamed US-controlled airport operations for prioritising the transportation of security troops over rescuers and supplies;[98] evacuation policies favouring citizens of certain nations were also criticised.[162]

Tiny dots of white against the plant-covered landscape (red in this image) are possible landslides, a common occurrence in mountainous terrain after large earthquakes. The Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault zone runs along the two linear valleys at the top of the image
History of the main shock and aftershocks with magnitudes larger than 4.0, data from USGS[39]
Damaged buildings in Port-au-Prince
Damaged buildings in Jacmel
Léogâne, close to the earthquake epicenter
The Haitian government began a programme to move homeless people out of Port-au-Prince on a ferry to Port Jeremie and in hired buses to temporary camps
A Haitian boy receives treatment at a MINUSTAH logistics base
Israeli and U.S. medical personnel coordinate relief efforts.
Heavy-lift helicopters ferry water from the offshore flotilla, 15 January
Having lost their homes, many Haitians now live in precarious camps
Haitian survivors were transferred to rescue ships for medical aid
MINUSTAH troops meet a U.S. relief flight on 16 January
UN forces took to patrolling the streets of Port-au-Prince


Haiti is a small island located in the Caribbean, South East of the USA and East of Cuba.  Its capital city is Port-au-Prince.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia


The earthquake was caused by the North American Plate sliding past the Caribbean Plate at a conservative plate margin.  Both plates move in the same direction, but one moves faster than the other.  The pressure that was built up because of the friction between the 2 plates was eventually released causing a magnitude 7 earthquake on the Richter Scale with an epicentre 16 miles West of Port-au-Prince and a shallow focus of 5 miles.  The earthquake struck at 16:53 (4:53pm) local time on Tuesday 12 January 2010.


Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Primary (caused directly by the earthquake)

Secondary (result from primary effects)

316,000 people were killed and 1 million people were made homeless.  3 million people were affected by the earthquake1 in 5 people lost their jobs because so many buildings were destroyed.  Haiti’s largest industry, clothing was one of the worst affected
250,000 homes and 30,000 other buildings, including the President’s Palace and 60% of government buildings, were either destroyed or badly damagedThe large number of deaths meant that hospitals and morgues became full and bodies then had to be piled up on the streets
Transport and communication links were also badly damaged by the earthquakeThe large number of bodies meant that diseases, especially cholera, became a serious problem
Hospitals (50+) and schools (1,300+) were badly damaged, as was the airport’s control towerIt was difficult getting aid into the area because of issues at the airport and generally poor management of the situation
The main prison was destroyed and 4,000 inmates escapedPeople were squashed into shanty towns or onto the streets because their homes had been destroyed leading to poor sanitation and health, and looting became a real problem


Development Indicator


GDP per capita (average income)$1,200 per person each year
People living in poverty80% of people live on $2 or less per day
Life expectancy62 years old
People per doctor0.25 doctors per 1,000 people
Adult literacy rate53% over 15 years old can read/write
Access to clean water46% of people have access to clean water


Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Short Term

Long Term

$100 million in aid given by the USA and $330 million by the European Union98% of the rubble on the roads hadn’t been cleared restricting aid access
810,000 people placed in aid camps1 million people still without houses after 1 year so still have to live in aid camps
115,000 tents and 1,000,000+ tarpaulin shelters providedSupport for people without jobs, which equates to nearly 70% of the population, through cash/food-for-work projects
Healthcare supplies provided to limit diseaseTemporary schools created and new teachers trainee
Lack of immediate aid through poor planning, management and access meant that people had to try and rescue each otherWater and sanitation eventually supplied for 1.7 million people
4.3 million people provided with food rations in the weeks following the earthquake

Useful Documents

Primary and secondary effects of the Haiti earthquake


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