Haiti Earthquake Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Ryan Newton
Natural disasters occur in many different forms. Whether they are hurricanes, floods, or earthquakes, they are nearly always devastating. The earthquake that shook Haiti in 2010 was no exception. In this lesson, you will learn about that earthquake and how it forever changed Haiti.

Where in the World is Haiti?

The small country of Haiti is located on an island in the Caribbean Sea. It shares the island with another country called the Dominican Republic. The Caribbean Sea is southeast of the United States. It is full of beautiful islands like Jamaica and Aruba.

Haiti is located on an island in the Caribbean Sea.
Haiti Beach

There are more than 10 million people in Haiti, and they speak Haitian Creole and French. The capital city is Port-au-Prince. Weather there is tropical, which means it's always nice, but can be rainy sometimes. Haitians produce a lot of crops such as mangoes and bananas.

The Day the Earth Shook

Earthquakes happen when big pieces of rock, called tectonic plates, rub against each other and begin to shake. Tectonic plates make up our Earth's crust. The power of earthquakes is measured with numbers on the Richter Scale. Any earthquake that measures more than a magnitude of 6.0 is very powerful.

On January 12, 2010, at about 5 p.m., a massive magnitude-7.0 earthquake rocked Haiti. The center of the quake was near the capital city, which was completely destroyed. Buildings and houses collapsed, and many people were killed or injured.

The earthquake destroyed Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

After the Disaster

It is estimated that around 250,000 people died, and 1.5 million people were forced from their homes. Haitians struggled to find food, water, shelter, and medical care. Many had been separated from their loved ones, and had nowhere to go. People immediately began searching for others who were buried under the rubble.

The damage was horrific. Survivors started to set up tent cities and help those who were injured. It wasn't long before aid organizations like the Red Cross arrived to help. They provided food, water, and medicines. Governments from all around the world donated money and supplies.

Survivors of the Haiti earthquake set up tent cities.

Why So Much Damage?

There was a magnitude-6.9 earthquake in San Francisco, California, in 1989. Only 63 people died, so why were so many people killed in Haiti? The major problem is that Haiti is a poor nation. They don't have the money and resources to construct really strong buildings.

In San Francisco, people are used to earthquakes, and they are able to build structures that won't collapse so easily. In Haiti, the earthquake shook the buildings enough for them to fall down. The location of the earthquake was also a major factor.

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