Earthquakes Threaten Many Third-World Cities

Port-au-Prince is not an outlier. Many other major cities in developing and poor countries lie along earthquake fault lines and are in danger of destruction.
February 27, 2010, 9am PST | Nate Berg
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Due to shoddy design and lax building codes, the structures of many cities like Istanbul and Karachi could see the same fate of the buildings demolished during Haiti's recent earthquake.

"Roger Bilham, a seismologist at the University of Colorado who has spent decades studying major earthquakes around the world, including the recent quake in Haiti, said that the planet's growing, urbanizing population, projected to swell by two billion more people by midcentury and to require one billion dwellings, faced 'an unrecognized weapon of mass destruction: houses.'

Without vastly expanded efforts to change construction practices and educate people, from mayors to masons, on simple ways to bolster structures, he said, Haiti's tragedy is almost certain to be surpassed sometime this century when a major quake hits Karachi, Pakistan, Katmandu, Nepal, Lima, Peru, or one of a long list of big poor cities facing inevitable major earthquakes."

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Published on Wednesday, February 24, 2010 in The New York Times
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