This year is off to a shaky start, counting at least 21 earthquakes so far according to the United States Geographical Survey (USGS). Even with the first dating as early as January 3rd in the Solomon Islands, it wasn’t until the year’s sixth earthquake that the situation gained worldwide attention. Billed as the deadliest earthquake of 2010, it caused the most damage even though it wasn’t of the highest magnitude, and it received the most press and international support.
On January 12, 2010, this earthquake registering a 7.0-magnitude hit just Southwest of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, killing 230,000 people and leaving 1.3 million people homeless. An estimated 250,000 homes and 30,000 commercial buildings were also destroyed. According to Tampa Bay Newspapers Online edition, since the initial earthquake, there have been 52 aftershocks registering at 4.5-magnitude or higher. With all the damage done, Haiti garnered a lot of international aid from countries and organizations all over the world. Haitian rapper Wyclef Jean’s foundation Yele Haiti was one of many organizations that allowed people to donate via text messaging. The organization is still at work distributing supplies to the people in Haiti. A number of celebrities including Wyclef, Jennifer Hudson, Celine Dion, and Jamie Foxx remade Michael Jackson’s “We Are the World” for Haiti. In Canada, Young Artists for Haiti, a group of 50 musicians including Nelly Furtado, Avril Lavigne and Nikki Yanofsky, remade K’naan’s “Waving Flag” to raise awareness and encourage support for Haiti. The Canadian government also promised to match donations from Canadians.
Then on February 27, the largest magnitude earthquake so far this year hit Maule, Chile, registering at 8.8. Although this earthquake had an impact as much as 800 times stronger than its predecessor in Haiti, it recorded less damage. On March 4, CNN reported that the original 802 death count given by emergency authorities was reduced because of the inclusion of missing people who had not been confirmed dead. Chilean authorities released the names of 279 people whose bodies had been identified but did not include the hundreds of unidentified victims. More than 120 aftershocks at 5.0-magnitude or greater have hit the South American country with USGS scientists predicting that there will be between 25 to 45 magnitude 5 aftershocks, possibly another magnitude 6 and a 30% chance of a magnitude 7 aftershock. In response to the earthquakes, countries around the world have pledged money or other forms of aid. Some of these countries include the United States, China, Japan, Australia, Argentina and members of the European Union among others. Chile is an earthquake zone and has experienced its share of earthquakes – in 1960, there was the 9.5 magnitude Valdivia earthquake. This year’s quake is the strongest the country has faced since and the total damage is estimated to be between 15 and 30 billion dollars.
Shortly after, on March 8, a magnitude 6.0 earthquake hit eastern Turkey, according to the USGS website. Official numbers put the death toll at 51 with at least 74 people injured. The quake struck in the country’s Elazig province, destroying about five percent of all the buildings in the area, particularly those made of mud bricks. At least 41 aftershocks have been recorded. In response, the Turkish disaster officials rushed food and shelter to the affected region. However, the Turkish government rejected aid from Israel, saying that they did not need it at the time.
In addition to these three, there have been other earthquakes which have been reported but have recorded little or no casualties. A 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck Southern Taiwan on March 4 with no deaths but 12 minor injuries reported. A magnitude 6.6 earthquake off the eastern coast of Japan caused some damage but no casualties and no risk of a tsunami. In Southern California, a magnitude 4.4 earthquake on March 16 caused no immediate damage or death.
Donations and support continue to poor in from around the world, as these affected nations begin to rebuild their countries and themselves.