Discuss the View That the Impacts of Earthquake Hazards Depends Primarily on Human Factors. (40)

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A hazard can be defined as something that poses a threat or danger, either to the human or physical environment. In the case of earthquakes, hazards can include the shaking of the earth, liquefaction, or if the epicentre occurs under an ocean a tsunami may become a hazard. Although human factors may influence the severity of the impact, physical factors may also play a part. Population distribution and density is a key human factor which affects the severity of earthquake hazards. As a result of an earthquake in Haiti (2010) up to 230,000 people were killed. The city of Port-Au-Prince lies close to the fault line where the epicentre of the earthquake was located, which meant that the city bore the brunt of the destructive force. A large proportion of the population live in poverty in slum areas, where buildings are built close together and in some cases on top of each other, resulting in a high population density. When the earthquake struck many buildings collapsed, killing people as rubble collapsed on top of them. However, the L’Aquila earthquake in Italy resulted in a mere 300 deaths. This was due to the earthquake striking a sparsely populated mountainous region and so fewer people were killed. The death toll of the Japanese tsunami (2010) was in the region of 25,000. This was predominantly because the tsunami struck densely populated coastal areas. It is clear that the impacts of these seismic events were worsened by the human factors – had people not chosen to live in the areas affected (particularly Haiti and Japan) then the impacts would have been lessened. Another factor which may affect the impact of earthquake hazards is that of mitigation. In Japan there were many initiatives and procedures in place to limit the impacts. In the town of Sendai tsunami warning systems are in place to warn residents of impending danger. They also make use of tsunami drills
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