Earthquakes Most Impactful Natural Disaster, Study Says

Researchers determined that earthquakes have a bigger affect on health than any other natural disaster with over 780,000 deaths in the past decade.

“Because earthquakes frequently affect populous urban areas with poor structural standards, they often result in high death rates and mass casualties with many traumatic injuries,” said Dr. Susan Bartel, head of the earthquake study at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative in Boston.

Highly populated cities, such as Los Angeles and Ercis, Turkey, lay on major fault lines and are more prone to earthquakes.

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Ercis, with a population of 75,000, is categorized as one of Turkey’s most earthquake-prone zones. A massive 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the city on Oct. 23 leaving 603 dead and over 1,000 injured.

A devastating 8.9-magnitude earthquake hit Japan in March, causing a massive residual tsunami to wipe out large parts of the Northeast.

Researchers published their findings in the Lancet Review on Friday. According to the report, earthquakes account for 60 percent of all natural disaster related deaths, with children being at a particularly high risk. Three people are injured for every person killed in an earthquake.

In the Haiti earthquake of 2010, 53 percent of victims were younger than 20 years old.

Earthquakes also produce residual effects, including emotional and physical defects. Debris can cause lung and eye damage, while large building collapses result in broken bones.

“Many patients surviving blunt and penetrating trauma and crush injuries have subsequent complications that lead to additional morbidity and mortality,” contended the report.

The study contends that after the 1999 Turkey earthquake, 17 percent of Turkey’s population reported suicidal thoughts. Earthquakes also beat out floods and hurricanes as the most impactful.

The report argued that the sheer force of earthquakes destroys the infrastructure of entire cities. The subsequent damage of hospitals and roads results in a slowed rebuilding process.

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