Haiti's earthquake was more damaging than Southeast Asia tsunami, study finds

The Miami HeraldFebruary 17, 2010 

The 7.0-magnitude earthquake that devastated Haiti may have caused as much as $13.2 billion in damages, four times initial Haitian government estimates, according to an Inter-American Development Bank study released Tuesday.

"This sum will be beyond the scope of one agency or one bilateral donor and so donor coordination will be key in any reconstruction effort," the report said.

The study was written by three economists, using data from 2,000 natural disasters over the past 40 years. They said the quake was "even more damaging" than the 2004 tsunami that struck parts of Asia.

"It is the most destructive event a country has ever experienced when measured in terms of the number of people killed as a share of the country's population and affected the capital city of the country," the report said.

The news came a day before French President Nicolas Sarkozy's historic visit to the country. He will be the first French president to visit in Haiti's 206-year history, marking a turning point in the two nations' complicated history of war and independence, revolt and kinship.

Sarkozy's trip is expected to last about five hours. It more than 200 years after slave-turned-revolutionary hero Jean-Jacques Dessalines declared Haiti the first free black nation in the Western hemisphere.

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