Industry corruption, shoddy construction likely contributed to Haiti quake devastation

Jan 14, 2010

The death toll in the massive 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti Jan. 12 is expected to continue to rise in the coming days, likely in large part because of corruption and resulting shoddy construction practices in the poor Caribbean nation, according to a University of Colorado at Boulder seismologist.

The hit about 10 miles west of the capitol city of Porte-au-Prince, which has about 2 million inhabitants, said Professor Roger Bilham of CU-Boulder's geological sciences department. The earthquake occurred along what is known as a "strike-slip zone" similar to the in California, where one side of a vertical fault moves past another one, he said.

"Porte-au-Prince is probably one of the worst constructed cities in the world, and even the presidential palace collapsed," said Bilham. "An earthquake near a major city on one of several faults bounding the edge of the is one that many of us were expecting sooner or later."

The International Red Cross estimated today that 45,000 to 50,000 people were killed in Tuesday's massive earthquake.

Bilham said one of the chief causes of the high destruction and fatality rates in Haiti and other developing countries is due in large part to corruption in the construction industry. One of the problems is bribery, which often takes the form of corrupt awards of construction projects, corrupt issuance of permits and approval documents and corrupt inspection practices.

"It should be appalling to the people of the world that in 2009, more than 100 years after earthquake-resistant began to be understood and implemented by engineers, that it is possible to forecast large numbers of future earthquake fatalities from the collapse of cities," said Bilham in his 2009 Mallet-Milne Lecture to earthquake engineers at The Society for Earthquake and Civil Engineering Dynamics meeting in London.

Explore further: New, tighter timeline confirms ancient volcanism aligned with dinosaurs' extinction

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Large Himalaya earthquakes may occur sooner than expected

Dec 07, 2005

While the rupture zones of recent major earthquakes are immune to similar-sized earthquakes for hundreds of years, they could be vulnerable to even bigger destructive temblors sooner than scientists suspect, according to ...

Killer quake struck just below the surface

Jan 13, 2010

The quake that struck Haiti erupted just below the surface on a notorious fault where two plates of the Earth's crust jostle and grind, scientists said.

Recommended for you

Improving forecasts for rain-on-snow flooding

8 hours ago

Many of the worst West Coast winter floods pack a double punch. Heavy rains and melting snow wash down the mountains together to breach riverbanks, wash out roads and flood buildings.

The Greenland Ice Sheet: Now in HD

9 hours ago

The Greenland Ice Sheet is ready for its close-up. The highest-resolution satellite images ever taken of that region are making their debut. And while each individual pixel represents only one moment in time, ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.