A comparison between the Japanese and the Haitian earthquakes

Posted on March 12, 2011

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Japan was stroke by a 8.9 earthquake yesterday, followed by a massive tsunami that has let the country anxious towards its failing nuclear plant.

UPDATE: 29/10/11
PLEASE, NO NOT READ THIS AS FACTS; THEY ARE NOW ALL WRONG AND OUTDATED AND THIS POST IS NO LONGER RELEVANT TO THE ACTUAL SITUATION. Sorry about the waste of time… (but I mean, check the posted date…)

According to the US Geological Survey, the earthquake that stroke Japan on Friday 11 March was the biggest the country had ever encountered since it’s started to measure quakes.

Compared with Haiti’s, which had a power of 7.3 magnitude, the Japanese tremor was slightly bigger, but it is the locations of their epicenters that made such differences between the two countries.

Haiti’s Léogane city was right under the quake and was consequently wiped out; in Japan, the epicenter was approximately 80 miles away from the Miyagi prefecture. Sendai, the closest city from the earthquake’s epicenter, took massive damages as a 10m tsunami broke on in the country northern shores.

The biggest difference between Japan and Haiti comes from the number of dead. The Land of the Rising Sun has, so far, 687 dead and around 650 disappeared — even though several other reports point out that ten of thousands are still missing.
On the other hand, Haiti had more than 230,000 dead. So many, in fact, that epidemic spread and killed numerous other Haitians, adding weight on its death scale.

Another difference comes from the cost of the earthquakes’ damages.
Thanks to the Japanese measures to counter earthquakes, the material losses were not as great as they would’ve been had the earthquake stroke Tokyo, situated 190 miles away from Sendai. Even if it’s still too early to know the exact cost of the damages, JP Morgan has estimated they were between £1bn and £2bn.
The Haiti earthquake was many times more expansive than that, reaching £7bn. Knowing that the economy is much weaker than in Japan, the ratio simply is immense.

As a note, the 1995 Kobe earthquake cost Japan around $100bn (£72bn), according to the eFinanicalNews.

The most alarming factor with the Japanese earthquake comes from its nuclear plant situated at Fukushima.
The reactor Fukushima 1 is threatening to cause another Three Mile Island catastrophe, the American nuclear station which saw one of its core partially melting, releasing radioactive gases.
So far, the situation seems to be under control as the Japanese authority said there was no unintentional leaks of radioactive materials — some gases were left out of the reactor to avoid its explosion.

If you want to read more about what’s happened in Fukushima, there is an article that explains the situation.

For constant news about the situation, the BBC website is broadcasting information on the Internet.

Image courtesy of Connect.In.com

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