Dan Sharpe, aged 19, is a second year geology student at the University of Leeds. With an avid interest in travelling, he has recently spent three and a half months in the wilderness of Northwest Canada and has also climbed the highest active volcano in the world. Currently fundraising for his participation in the Milan City Marathon in April, Dan spends most of his time out of lectures running or in the pool, or the pub of course.
Dan has a keen interest in development and will be joining the GfGD Blog writing team as a columnist - covering topics of interest to him - and hopefully many of you, enjoy!
2011 was a year of unparalleled numbers of disasters and the first six months saw over $265 billion in losses (study by Munich Re; a company that specialises in disaster insurance). On the 10th January floodwaters rushed through Queensland Australia, waters that killed 17 people and caused millions of dollars of damage; an event that carried on affecting lives through to February. This month also saw a devastating earthquake hit Christchurch New Zealand, and this 6.3 magnitude hazard was the largest of six earthquakes to strike the city on the 22nd February. 182 people lost their lives as a result of this event which, for such a large and repetitive series of earthquakes, is considerably lower than it may have been. In comparison to another hazard event in 2010, this low death toll is nothing short of remarkable. The earthquake that shook the capital of Haiti in January 2010 recorded 7.0 on the Richter Scale, but the death toll came in at over 300,000. Both earthquakes occurred at a relatively shallow depth increasing their severity, and both had an epicentre less than 25km from the cities so why was one so much more deadly?
The slums surrounding Port-au-Prince, Haiti, are some of the worst in the world. Corrugated iron and wooden shacks are built on foundations of unconsolidated mud and rock. Liquefaction of these poor foundations means these temporary living spaces easily collapse, entombing the residents inside. All of the main buildings had inadequate building quality and no earthquake protection technologies, so many collapsed partially if not entirely including the three medical centres. In contrast, the buildings of Christchurch are soundly constructed and much more resistant to earthquakes. The hospital, although partially damaged, remained open throughout the event to treat the injured and although nearly a quarter of the residential buildings in the city centre are expected to be demolished, few collapsed in the event itself ensuring the survival of most residents.