Foreign Affairs featured article:
On January 12, 2010, Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, was struck by a 7.0-magnitude earthquake that caused widespread destruction and killed approximately 222,000 people. The next month, Chile was hit by an 8.8-magnitude earthquake -- approximately 500 times stronger than that in Haiti -- but only 500 people died…
…Governments cannot prevent earthquakes and other natural disasters, but they can prepare for them and ameliorate their effects. Measures to do so are well known. That so many countries in earthquake-prone regions of the world fail to adequately regulate construction, for example, seems to defy logic. Yet when faced with a choice to insist on the use of reliable cement in construction projects or to award contracts to cronies who are less inclined to use safe materials, politicians too often choose the latter, with disastrous consequences. In 2003, an earthquake in Bam, Iran, killed at least 30,000. China is plagued by such disasters, which can leave hundreds of thousands dead. Similar earthquakes in Chile, Japan, and the United States have killed far fewer. The difference is in the preparation: Chile, Japan, and the United States have implemented policies that keep acts of nature from becoming massive human tragedies; Iran and China have not.
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