HAITI — Sunday January 12 marks the four-year anniversary of one of the most devastating and destructive earthquakes in recent times in the western hemisphere.
It was in 2010 that a 7.0 magnitude quake rocked the western part of Hispaniola where Haiti lies. The zone is fairly tectonically active, but is located in a zone where the North American and Caribbean plates meet. The quake occurred about 4:53 PM local time on Tuesday January 12.
Death toll estimates were over 100,000 (Government estimates are over 300,000) and more than 50 aftershocks were felt in the region in the weeks to follow. There are estimates that over three million people were affected, 30,000 commercial buildings, and some 250,000 residences were either severely damaged or destroyed. It is thought that more than 150,000 people are still living in temporary accommodations four years later!
The earthquake occurred inland approximately 25 km (16 mi) west/southwest of Port-au-Prince at a depth of 13 km (8.1 mi). The quake occurred in the vicinity of the northern boundary where the Caribbean tectonic plate shifts eastwards by about 20 mm (0.79 in) per year in relation to the North American plate.
Much of the region was devastated and a massive world humanitarian aid began. To this day the rebuilding continues and is far from complete. An international seismic standards building code was implemented, but only for the bigger, well-funded projects like hotels, supermarkets, and schools. Smaller buildings and homes in this impoverished nation that are being rebuilt typically do not meet those same standards.