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Earthquakes: Magnitude Of Risk Vs Deaths

Earthquakes: Magnitude of Risk vs Deaths

"Over the past century there have been an average of 486 deaths for an earthquake the size at the one that occurred in Gisborne," says Risk & Policy Analyst, Ron Law.

It is extremely rare for any deaths to occur in earthquakes measuring less than 4.5 on the Richter scale, but the numbers rise exponentially as earthquake severity increases.

The number of deaths for such an earthquake is dependent on various factors such as the proximity of the epicentre to population centres, the structure of buildings, and the time of day.

Whilst most earthquakes of 6.8 do not cause many fatalities in developed countries, earthquakes of a magnitude between 6 and 7 on the Richter scale have caused significant death in recent years including 25,000 deaths in a quake measuring 6.9 in the former Soviet Union in 1988.

"Whilst bold headlines have been generated due to the earthquake in Gisborne, it should be noted that approximately 1,500 highly preventable deaths occur each year in New Zealand's health system," says Ron Law. "That is the equivalent of a fully laden Boeing 737 crashing every week at a New Zealand airport with little being done to reduce the carnage."




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