On This Day, Jan. 12th, 2010: The Haiti Earthquake

On this day in 2010, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake devastates the Caribbean island nation of Haiti. The quake, which was the strongest to strike the region in more than 200 years,
left over 200,000 people dead and some 895,000 Haitians homeless.

haitiThe earthquake hit southern Haiti at 4:53 p.m. local time. The nation’s
capital, Port-au-Prince, a densely populated city located about 15 miles from
the quake’s epicenter, suffered widespread devastation. Countless dwellings
were reduced to rubble, while hospitals, churches and schools collapsed and
roads were blocked with debris. Numerous government structures were heavily
damaged or destroyed, including the presidential palace, parliament building
and main prison. (At the time of the quake, Haiti lacked a national building
code, and many structures were shoddily constructed.) In the aftermath of the
quake, amidst fears that victims’ decomposing corpses could spread disease,
trucks picked up thousands of bodies and dumped them into mass graves.

Even before the earthquake, Haiti, which occupies the western third of the island
of Hispaniola (the Dominican Republic occupies the other two-thirds), was the
poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with 80 percent of its 9 million
residents existing in poverty. Political corruption and violence, disease,
malnutrition and limited access to education were a way of life for many in
Haiti, which gained its independence from France in an 1804 slave revolt.

A large-scale, international relief operation was launched soon after the quake
hit, with the United States taking charge and sending thousands of military
troops to Haiti to deliver supplies, assist with search-and-rescue efforts and
help maintain order. Relief efforts initially were hampered by earthquake
damage to roads, communication systems and the Port-au-Prince airport and main
port.haiti 2

Governments and individuals around the world made donations and pledges of aid
to Haiti totaling billions of dollars. However, on the first-year anniversary
of the disaster, reconstruction efforts were still in their infancy. Thousands of people left homeless by the quake were living in tents, and only a small portion of the heavy debris resulting from the disaster had been cleared.

(source History.com)



Two former Presidents very different reactions while meeting Haitian earthquake survivors.