An Earthquake GEM: Big Data May Prevent Deaths

Earthquakes don’t kill people, buildings do, seismologists say. The greatest risk of dying during an earthquake comes from collapsing structures and flying debris. Thanks to Japan’s stringent seismic building codes, during the 2011 magnitude-9.0 Tohoku earthquake, fewer than 600 people were crushed by falling rubble, according to Japan’s National Police Agency. More than 90 percent of the country’s deaths were from drowning during the ensuing tsunami.
But in China, where seismic building codes are often flouted, the magnitude-8.0 Wenchuan earthquake in 2008 killed more than 69,000 people. In 2010, an even smaller quake, a magnitude-7.0, killed more than 220,000 people in Haiti. [Looking Back: Images from the Haiti Earthquake]

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