'High death toll in Haiti quake result of widespread corruption in construction industry'

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Washington, Jan. 15 (ANI): The high death toll in the Haiti earthquake, which is only expected to rise in the coming days, is a consequence of corruption and resulting shoddy construction practices in the impoverished country, a seismologist at the University of Colorado at Boulder has said.

"Porte-au-Prince is probably one of the worst constructed cities in the world, and even the presidential palace collapsed. An earthquake near a major city on one of several faults bounding the edge of the Caribbean Plate is one that many of us were expecting sooner or later," Science Daily quoted Professor Roger Bilham of CU-Boulder's geological sciences department, as saying.

The massive magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit about 10 miles west of the capitol city of Porte-au-Prince, which has about 2 million inhabitants.

It occurred along what is known as a "strike-slip zone" similar to the San Andreas Fault in California, where one side of a vertical fault moves past another one, Bilham said.

The International Red Cross estimated today that 45,000 to 50,000 people were killed in Tuesday's massive earthquake.

Bilham said one of the chief causes of the high destruction and fatality rates in Haiti and other developing countries is due in large part to corruption in the construction industry.

One of the problems is bribery, which often takes the form of corrupt awards of construction projects, corrupt issuance of permits and approval documents and corrupt inspection practices.

"It should be appalling to the people of the world that in 2009, more than 100 years after earthquake-resistant construction began to be understood and implemented by engineers, that it is possible to forecast large numbers of future earthquake fatalities from the collapse of cities," said Bilham in his 2009 Mallet-Milne Lecture to earthquake engineers at The Society for Earthquake and Civil Engineering Dynamics meeting in London. (ANI)

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