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Corrupt Societies Suffer Most From Earthquakes, Study Finds

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
'Corrupt societies' suffer most from earthquakes, study finds

By Margaret Munro, Postmedia News - January 13, 2011

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The study, published Wednesday to coincide with the anniversary of Haiti's devastating quake, "found that corrupt societies have the largest death tolls from earthquakes."

It also warns "international and national funds set aside for earthquake resistance in countries where corruption is endemic are especially prone to being siphoned off."

The report, published in the journal Nature, comes complete with graphs charting corruption and quake tolls in different countries.

The construction industry -- worth $7.5 trillion annually and expected to double in the next decade -- "is recognized as being the most corrupt segment of the global economy," says the report by Roger Bilham, a seismologist at the University of Colorado, and Nicholas Ambraseys, a quake hazard specialist at Imperial College London.

"During earthquakes, the consequences of decades of shoddy construction are revealed on a catastrophic scale," they say, noting bribes can subvert inspection and licensing processes, and covert cost-cutting can compromise structure quality.

The report estimates 212,000 people died as homes, hospitals and offices collapsed in Haiti last January. And it notes that the number of people killed in buildings continues to climb despite major advances in how to engineer and build structures to withstand quakes.

Since 1980 they estimate 550,000 people around the world have died in shoddy buildings during quakes, and Bilham says millions more live and work in buildings he describes as "weapons of mass destruction."

To get a read on the impact of corruption, Bilham and Ambraseys compared quake fatalities in buildings with gross national income per capita and a country's ranking on the corruption perception index generated annually by Transparency International, an organization working to reduce corruption.

Their statistical analysis concludes 83 per cent of all deaths from building collapse in earthquakes over the past 30 years occurred in countries that are "anomalously corrupt," which they define as more corrupt than one would expect from their per-capita income.

Italy, Greece and Russia are among the countries perceived as corrupt with high quake fatalities, while Chile and New Zealand are less corrupt than might be expected from their per-capita income, and have fewer earthquake deaths.

Haiti and Iran are described as "extreme examples" of nations where fatalities from quakes are excessive and where levels of corruption are above average.

Bilham said there are uncertainties in the study, since many factors contribute to shoddy building construction.

"The biggest uncertainty in the study was in distinguishing between ignorance, corruption and poverty," he says.

He says corruption is "endemic" in Haiti. But when you look at the buildings that collapsed, he says it is apparent they were put up by "people who didn't know what they were doing."

"And even if they did know what they were doing, they didn't have the money to do anything better," he says. "And the government didn't have the willpower to impose on them some kind of code that would have prevented this kind of disaster."

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ੴ / Ik▫oaʼnkār
Dec 21, 2010
souljyot ji thanks for the article.

It leaves something to be desired (not your issue) but the author of the article.

The title some how suggests that "corrupt societies" actually attract earthquakes or there will be more earthquakes in corrupt societies. I do not know if you came across this but some of the religious "Right" kind of blamed the earthquake in Haiti as so called good God's revenge on people who deserted him. So from the title I said oh no, another Right wing religious propaganda.

The better title would have been,

Nations with Corrupt Governments and Corruption ill prepared to cope with Natural Disasters
I don't wish no bad but if such a bad earth quake were to hit Delhi, the devastation and Governments ability to save common folks won't be much better.

Sat Sri Akal.



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