In mid-January, an earthquake in Haiti killed 230,000 people. Last month, an even larger quake rocked Chile, leaving an estimated 700 people dead, despite the latter being more than 500 times more powerful.
The explanation for how this could be possible is surprising: according to the definitive study done by University of Colorado seismologist Roger Bilham, the damage done by an earthquake is directly proportional to the quality of home and building construction. Poorly-built homes and buildings, he says, are an unrecognized “weapon of mass destruction,” and we only need to look at the devastation in Haiti to see that he’s right.
And Bilham predicts more to come: if Tehran were hit by an earthquake similar to Haiti’s, he says, one million people could die, due to what many geologists believe is the Iranian government’s dangerous neglect of earthquake preparation.