Earthquake engineers release report on damage in Haiti

February 23rd, 2010 - 3:28 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Feb 23 (ANI): A team of earthquake engineers has released a report on the damage done in Haiti after the mega quake on January 12.

The five-person team sent to evaluate damage from the devastating magnitude-7 earthquake that struck Haiti found no surface evidence of the fault that might have caused the quake, but installed four instruments to measure aftershocks and help pinpoint the epicenter.

University of Washington civil and environmental engineering professor Marc Eberhard led the team that provided engineering support to the United States Southern Command, responsible for all US military activities in South and Central America.

“The poverty of the people combined with the density of population and lack of building codes resulted in the widespread devastation,” said Eberhard.

A main conclusion is that much of the loss of human life could have been prevented by using earthquake-resistant designs and construction, as well as improved quality control in concrete and masonry work.

The authors of the report recommend that simple and cost-effective earthquake engineering be emphasized in Haiti’s rebuilding effort.

The group also gathered more seismic data.

Assessing an earthquake’s magnitude can be done from afar, but establishing the location requires several stations fairly close to the earthquake’s center, according to Eberhard.

“Such monitoring stations were not present in Haiti. Knowing the location will help understand what caused the earthquake and forecast the likelihood of future quakes in the area,” he said.

The team provided a ground assessment of places that were worst hit, including the port in Port-au-Prince, the cathedral, the National Palace, the Hotel Montana and the Union School, attended by children of many nationalities.

They photographed damage in smaller towns and assessed the safety of hospitals, schools, bridges and other critical facilities.

A survey of 107 buildings in a heavily damaged part of downtown Port-au-Prince found that 28 percent had collapsed and a third would require repairs.

A survey of 52 buildings in nearby Leogane found that more than 90 percent had either collapsed or will require repairs.

“A lot of the damaged structures will have to be destroyed. It’s not just 100 buildings or 1,000 buildings. It’s a huge number of buildings, which I can’t even estimate,” Eberhard commented. (ANI)

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