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Haiti - 2010 earthquake

The January 12, 2010, Haiti earthquake occurred in the boundary region separating the Caribbean plate and the North America plate. This plate boundary is dominated by left-lateral strike slip motion and compression, and accommodates about 20 mm/y slip, with the Caribbean plate moving eastward with respect to the North America plate.

Haiti occupies the western part of the island of Hispaniola, one of the Greater Antilles islands, situated between Puerto Rico and Cuba. At the longitude of the January 12 earthquake, motion between the Caribbean and North American plates is partitioned between two major east-west trending, strike-slip fault systems -- the Septentrional fault system in northern Haiti and the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault system in southern Haiti.

The location and focal mechanism of the earthquake are consistent with the event having occurred as left-lateral strike slip faulting on the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault system. This fault system accommodates about 7 mm/y, nearly half the overall motion between the Caribbean plate and North America plate.

The Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault system has not produced a major earthquake in recent decades. The EPGFZ is the likely source of historical large earthquakes in 1860, 1770, 1761, 1751, 1684, 1673, and 1618, though none of these has been confirmed in the field as associated with this fault.

By 15 January 2010, in its first estimate, the United Nations reports about 10 percent of the housing in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince has been destroyed, leaving some 300,000 people homeless. The UN said a full assessment of the damages inflicted by the powerful earthquake will take several days to complete. The United Nations said some 3.5 million people are living in areas affected by the earthquake. Nearly three million are in the capital, Port-au-Prince, which was most seriously affected. Aid agencies say it is too soon to know how many people were killed and injured. But, they said it is sure to be in the tens of thousands.

As of January 16, although telephone communication remained irregular, limited cellular service and regular relief coordination meetings had improved coordination among rescue and relief actors. Search and Rescue Operations. As of 1700 hours local time on January 17, U.S. Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams had rescued 30 individuals from collapsed buildings, including one individual rescued at approximately 1615 hours local time and three individuals rescued overnight from the Caribbean Market. To date, international USAR teams have rescued a total of 62 individuals throughout Port-au-Prince.



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