Chile And Haiti: A Study In Contrast When Facing Natural Disasters

One of the most powerful earthquake on record- at 8.8 on the Richter scale- struck Chile early on Saturday morning causing infrastructures such as highway bridges (see photo), hospitals and of course private homes to collapse. The current estimate for the death toll in the South American country is 300, but likely to rise.

The earthquake, which occurred off shore, also triggered a Tsunami threatening other nations across the Pacific Rim. Chilean officials say the death toll of 300 is likely to rise when telephone and power lines are restored and the full and true extend of the devastation become known.

On Saturday, extraordinary measures were taken in Hawaii in the fear that giant destructive waves, generated by the earthquake thousands of miles away, would materialized. However, and thankfully the evacuation of all coastal areas in the state of Hawaii, conducted in the most efficient manner by the authorities, was ultimately not needed. The giant Tsunami waves never materialized, and at 5:00 AM US (EST) today, the Pacific Tsunami Center fully lifted its Tsunami alert for Hawaii.

Even so the massive earthquake which hit Chile yesterday, and the one which devastated Haiti on January 12 are unlikely to be related to each others on a seismic stand point, one can’t help establishing an analogy between the two disasters, the respective responses, and the huge disparity in terms of the death toll.

The 8.8 earthquake in Chile originated off the coast, but was yet so powerful it could be felt in land 1,800 miles away in Brazil. The death toll in Chile could rise to a few thousands, but it is far away from the catastrophic death toll of Haiti’s killer quake, which according to the Haitian government stand now at 230,000. It is difficult not to be shocked, and quite frankly revolted¬† by the incredible disparity between the consequences, in terms of life and death, of two similar events, such as Haiti’s quake on January 12 and Chile’s quake on February 27. Yet the explanation is quite obvious.

Even so the earthquake in Haiti had a 7.0 magnitude on the Richter scale, the poorly build homes, buildings and crumbling infrastructure and roads were no match for the quake. It could not be more different in the case of Chile, which is a 1ST world country with a modern and adequate infrastructure and a functioning government.

What is really in the balance here, between a few thousands killed, in the case of Chile, and the 230,000 people in the case of Haiti is the disparity and humanely despicable injustice between 1ST world nations such as Chile and 3RD world’s ones such as Haiti.

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One Response to Chile And Haiti: A Study In Contrast When Facing Natural Disasters

  1. Jack Robertson March 5, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    The contrast of these 1st and 3rd world nations:

    Very encouraging to see so much outpouring of help to Haiti. They are/were not able to help themselves, given the economic poverty of the nation BEFORE the earthquake. Great example of helping people truly in need and without means. They couldn’t afford to prepare and stock up on food/bottled water/ first aid supplies if they wanted to. The world didn’t hesitate to respond.

    In contrast:
    The people in Chile WERE capable of stocking up and had been warned over and over by their government to BE PREPARED to take care of yourself in an emergency, especially since Chile has always been at such high risk for earthquakes. So many did not. Then, they cried “where is the government! Why have they abandoned us!”

    It concerns me, even here in the US, in areas such as in L.A. and the rest of SOCAL, where earthquake preparedness for “the big one” is pounded in to the public and so few people seem to take heed. There seems to be a universal mindset that “the government will take care of us.” Even with all the lessons learned from past disasters the world over. It takes time for help to arrive, whether in Haiti or New Orleans. It would be wise to prepare to take care of your family and the neighbors on each side of you for 10 days. If people did that, you would see the desparate actions (such as crime/looting) of the citizens minimized.

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