The Haitian Quake Explained

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The quake hit Haiti just outside of Port Au Prince before 5pm EST yesterday, and several buildings were said to collapse or suffer damages. Screams could be heard after one hospital in the area collapsed due to the shaker. In just three short hours following the quake, thirteen aftershocks took place. Many above a 4 on the Richter scale. The initial quake is said to have been at 7.0, but some sources are saying it might have been as strong as 7.2.

What caused the Haiti earthquake, and why was it so devastating? Here are answers to these and other questions:

What caused an earthquake?

The shaking started on Tuesday, Jan. 12, at 4:53 p.m. EST in the Haiti region, just 10 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince. The Haiti earthquake occurred at a fault that runs right through Haiti and is situated along the boundary between the Caribbean and North American plates, rocky slabs that cover the planet and fit together like a giant jigsaw puzzle. These two plates constantly creep past one another, about 0.8 inches a year, with the Caribbean plate moving eastward with respect to the North American slab.

 

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