An earthquake is occasioned by the tremor of tectonic plates on the surface of the earth. Materials on earth’s crust are dislocated by pushing forces from either side (Oliver, 2010). When the friction holding the surface rocks are overwhelmed by the forces, the plate of rocks are more likely to slip over each other leading to the onset of an earthquake.
Depending on the intensity of the pushing and opposing forces, some quakes may not have gross impact since they are hardly felt. However, other tremors might be intensive leading to massive loss in life and property. This paper explores the earthquake devastation to Haiti which occurred on 12th January 2010 and how the international community responded in a bid to rescue and resettle victims of the disaster.
The Haiti capital, Port-au-Prince among other parts of the country was seriously devastated by the January earthquake. The quake recorded a magnitude of 7.0 in addition to aftershocks that caused further damages thereafter (Taft-Morales & Margesson, 2010).
Immediately after the main earthquake struck, it was impossible to relay any information since communication services were brought to a standstill owing to the destruction of communication infrastructure (Aronin, 2011).
The preliminary reports obtained by rescuers revealed that several people were either trapped in collapsed buildings or were left homeless and stranded in open air, not to mention the unaccounted deaths and untold suffering of the victims.
Although the initial estimates of those who tragically died in the quake have been continuously updated, the actual number may not be established due to uncertainty on the whereabouts of those who were deeply buried in the debris. A statement issued by the United Nations Secretary General indicated that approximately one third of the Haiti population may have been devastated by the earthquake (Ellingwood, 2010, August 1).
Aftershocks are even more disastrous than the primary quakes since such tremors can significantly cause additional loss in life and property bearing in mind that the structures have already been weakened by the primary quake and are highly susceptible to further damages.
In the case of Haiti, fourteen aftershocks were experienced with a magnitude greater than five while thirty others with magnitude more than four (Taft-Morales & Margesson, 2010). These aftershocks took place within a span of one day after the onset of the main earthquake. The aftershocks persisted for some weeks complicating the rescue effort.
In the event that there are steep slopes and uneven land surfaces such as hills and valleys situated within the vicinity of the epicenter, the likelihood of a major earthquake taking place is high while the aftershocks are easily triggered by the steep slopes due to landslides. As a result, both human life and structures located on the lower sides of the slopes are in greater danger.
This was phenomenon of Haiti earthquake and as a result, it even became cumbersome for rescue efforts to be directed in rugged topography (Oliver, 2010). In addition, most of the personnel who were part and parcel of the recovery teams were lost in the disaster making it difficult to reach out for the victims.
For instance, there were several reported cases of missing officials from the Haiti government, the aid personnel from the international community including rescue workers from United Nations. To worsen the situation, the basic infrastructure such as the main transportation routes and communication channels were brought down by the earthquake.
The airport located at Port-au-Prince was damaged leading to a quagmire in air traffic control. However, this challenge was immediately addressed by relocating the air traffic control authority to the United States.
So far, an optional port facility has been established by the US troops since the major port was grossly damaged by the earthquake. Besides, the government officials had to serve in temporary conditions owing to the breakdown in structures and facilities (Taft-Morales & Margesson, 2010).
Haiti had been receiving humanitarian aid from the international community even before the January 2010 earthquake. As a consequence of this external assistance, the country had already made significant strides in developing its economy ranging from security, management of the macroeconomics, reforms in important organs of the government such as judiciary to transparency in the fiscal processes (Ellingwood, 2010, August 1).