Major Earthquakes of the Past Decade (2000-2010): A Comparative Review of Various Aspects of Management




Objectives: This article sought to review and compare data of major earthquakes of the past decade and their aftermath in order to compare the magnitude, death toll, type of injuries, management procedures, extent of destruction and effectiveness of relief efforts. Materials and Methods: A retrospective study of the various aspects of management and aftermath of 5 major earthquakes of the past decade (2000–2010) was undertaken. This included earthquakes occurring in Bam Iran, Sichuan China, Port-au-Prince Haiti, Kashmir Pakistan and Ica Peru. A literature search was done via computer of published articles (indexed in Pubmed). The issues assessed included: 1)Local magnitude,2)Type of building structure 3)Time of the earthquake (day/time/season), 4)Time to rescue, 5)Triage, Transfer, and Treatment 6) Distribution of casualties (dead/ injured), 7)Degree of city damage, 8)Degree of damage to health facilities, 9)Field hospital availability, 10)International aid, 11)Air transfer, 12) Telecommunication systems availability, 13) PTSD prevalence, 14) Most common injury and 15) Most common disease outbreak. Results: The Bam earthquake had the lowest (6.6 Richter’s) and the Sichuan earthquake had the greatest magnitude (8.0 Richter’s). Mortality in Haiti was 212,000 and it was the deadliest earthquake of the past decade. Collapse of heavy clay roofing structures was a major cause of death in Iran and Pakistan. Earthquakes occurring at night and nonworking days carried a high death toll. The time to rescue and treat was the lengthiest in Haiti (possibly contributing to the death to injured ratio). However, the worst dead to injured ratios were in Bam (51%) and in Pakistan (47%); the best ratio was in China (15%). Iran and Pakistan suffered the highest percentage of damage to the health facilities (90%). Field hospital availability, international aid and air transfer were important issues. Telecommunication systems were best in China and worst in Pakistan. PTSD prevalence was highest in Iran. Respiratory infection was the most common infection following all 5 earthquakes. Conclusions: Earthquake damage, death toll, managerial protocols etc. vary in different countries and are influenced by many factors including the hour the earthquake hits and the day of the week. Additionally, social, structural and geographic factors as well as the medical, governmental and NGO respondents are influential. Engineered residential construction remains to be of importance in reducing mortality in developing countries. It is essential that hospitals, fire departments and police stations, water, telephone and electrical facilities be made earthquake proof.