Journal cover Journal topic
Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/nhessd-1-1913-2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
15 May 2013
Review status
A revision of this discussion paper for further review has not been submitted.
Uncovering the 2010 Haiti earthquake death toll
J. E. Daniell1,2, B. Khazai2, and F. Wenzel2 1General Sir John Monash Scholar, The General Sir John Monash Foundation, Level 5, 30 Collins Street, Melbourne, Victoria, 3000, Australia
2Center for Disaster Management and Risk Reduction Technology (CEDIM) and Geophysical Institute, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Hertzstrasse 16, 76187, Karlsruhe, Germany
Abstract. Casualties are estimated for the 12 January 2010 earthquake in Haiti using various reports calibrated by observed building damage states from satellite imagery and reconnaissance reports on the ground. By investigating various damage reports, casualty estimates and burial figures, for a one year period from 12 January 2010 until 12 January 2011, there is also strong evidence that the official government figures of 316 000 total dead and missing, reported to have been caused by the earthquake, are significantly overestimated. The authors have examined damage and casualties report to arrive at their estimation that the median death toll is less than half of this value (±137 000$). The authors show through a study of historical earthquake death tolls, that overestimates of earthquake death tolls occur in many cases, and is not unique to Haiti. As death toll is one of the key elements for determining the amount of aid and reconstruction funds that will be mobilized, scientific means to estimate death tolls should be applied. Studies of international aid in recent natural disasters reveal that large distributions of aid which do not match the respective needs may cause oversupply of help, aggravate corruption and social disruption rather than reduce them, and lead to distrust within the donor community.

Citation: Daniell, J. E., Khazai, B., and Wenzel, F.: Uncovering the 2010 Haiti earthquake death toll, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., 1, 1913-1942, doi:10.5194/nhessd-1-1913-2013, 2013.
J. E. Daniell et al.
J. E. Daniell et al.

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