Why are earthquake impacts different in LEDCs and MEDCs?
Any disaster either caused by humans or Mother Nature will make an impact but this depends where it hits. Obviously, if a disaster, or an earthquake in this case occurs somewhere densely populated rather an isolated area it will have a greater impact as life could be lost, buildings destroyed and as a result, high prices to pay.
We will be looking at the impacts of earthquakes in Lower Economically Developed Countries and More Economically Developed Countries, spotting the differences.
There are many earthquakes to study but we have chosen some of the most devastating ones that have occurs somewhere in the near past.
San Francisco, in 1985 one of Americas largest and most populated cities at the time, far ahead of other cities its size when it came to technology. San Francisco was modern as ever with large and long bridges and bays, and plenty rural areas. There were also skyscrapers and tall buildings, which towered over the population.
San Francisco was never peaceful as it lies on the fault line and earthquakes usually tend to occur there, so San Francisco is usually prepared for an earthquake with police, fire fighters and rescue teams and even volunteers if needed, this is all done before the actual disaster if predicted, if it isn’t they are still very quick to get to the scene.
Even if San Francisco has the technology and all the measurements are taken to predict an earthquake or any other disaster, some disasters can happen anytime and very suddenly. Such a disaster was the 1985 earthquake, which read a strikingly high 7.2 on the Richter scale.
This earthquake, in the highly populated San Francisco might have killed only 63 and injured many more but the economic impacts were great as buildings were destroyed, bridges collapsed and fires blazed through the city destroying anything in their path. This caused a great financial problem for the cities inhabitants, as the taxes would have to rise and also the government because large amounts of money would be needed to rebuild.
Even though many of the buildings, possibly the newer ones, were earthquake proof or could withstand a great deal of shock they were also destroyed. This because the older buildings that were not able to withstand the shock were destroyed and collapsed on top of the other buildings, which also collapsed, or they caught on fire which spread and in turn destroyed other buildings.
If buildings collapse or not also depends on where they are built. Some of the buildings in San Francisco are built on reclaimed and marshy land, which broke down or collapsed taking down the building with it when the actual earthquake happened.
Built on a dried up lake bed, Mexico City one of the worlds most densely populated cities with buildings tall but cheaply built was hit by an earthquake that wiped out nearly everything.
As modern as it was, Mexico City was hit by an earthquake reading 8.0 on the Richter scale and party of the city were almost completely destroyed and the death toll 18,000 and this wasn’t even the precise number.
Most of the buildings, schools, political buildings, statues, office buildings that were supposed to be earthquake proof, were all destroyed and after the incident and lay in pieces on the ground. It is calculated that approximately 400 buildings collapsed.
The earthquake was not predicted or people weren’t sure when and where exactly it would hit and so there was no warning except for what some people said, that they saw earthquake approaching as they saw waves like in the ocean on the dried up lake bed.
Just like San Francisco, many buildings were earthquake proof but the ones that weren’t simply took the others out.
In Mexico City where most of the population was poor, rescue teams and firefighters had not been summoned and organized. In fact, there were actually very little professional help, but there were many construction workers, employees and the public. There was also no equipment besides the buckets, plastic bags and other items usually found at home.
Another Japanese city, very Hi-Tech and modern with a good infrastructure a small money making city with one of the world’s busiest ports to go with it, a high population.
Japan has always been one of the world’s more aware countries when it comes to earthquakes as they have all the technologies and equipment to predict an earthquake or any other natural disaster. Kobe, a city in Japan was said to be one of the safest places to be in the country when an earthquake hit as it was hardly ever faced a severe natural disaster.
Even so, in 1995 an earthquake reading 7.1 on the Richter scale ran right through Kobe tearing apart the city. Roads, railway lines, metro and bridges were destroyed; mass transit and the infrastructure were all destroyed. People couldn’t reach work or home.
Like San Francisco and Mexico City, the newer and more recently built buildings were earthquake proof and the older ones weren’t and as before they were the ones that were destroyed by the earthquake and fell destroying all the other buildings. Fire is also another great concern as this is one of the worst things that can take place when an earthquake takes place as fires may take days to put out and in the meantime will destroy and burn anything in their way.
This was another disaster and came as a surprise to the Japanese Government as it had never been predicted that an earthquake of that size could hit Kobe and kill over 5,000 innocent people.
The population was not prepared either, they didn’t know that an earthquake was going to happen and weren’t mentally prepared.
Why are earthquake impacts different in LEDCs and MEDCs?
First of all, the impact depends on the size of the earthquake, where it hits and its depth in the ground.
If the earthquake were shallow, nearer to the earth’s surface then the actual tremors would be much more violent but if the earthquake was deeper in the earth, then it wouldn’t be as strongly felt on the surface. Then again this depends on the plates and which way they move, or which plate is faster or slower, or which plate will push the other under itself. This all matters as it will tell us the strength of the earthquake, but this is not the answer to the question.
Theoretically speaking, if the earthquake hit at the exact time, at the exact depth and at the exact speed and keeping all the other variables the same in a LEDC and a MEDC I would say that it would have a greater economic impact in the MEDC rather than the LEDC in which more lives may be lost. This because of the way their buildings and homes are built, earthquake proof or not? In MEDCs, fewer lives would be lost because their homes are built so that they would withstand earthquakes but the financial problems would be fairly large as office building and employees that might make a very large difference to the world could die during this disaster resulting in the fall to their business or even the stock market which may even affect the world.
The death toll would be higher in LEDCs than MEDCs but the financial problems would be greater in MEDCs.