Despite the size of the earthquake in Chile being two orders of magnitude worse than that of Haiti’s – the damage is going to be substantially different for a number of reasons. First, the Chilean quake epicenter was along the coastline in Chile, which is sparsely populated. Second, because Chile has had numerous earthquakes, with the most active geological fault in the world running down the center of the country, they have extensive knowledge (and building codes) in the area of building earthquake resistant structures. Coastal Chile has a history of deadly earthquakes, with 13 temblors of magnitude 7.0 or higher since 1973 – as a result, newer buildings are constructed to help withstand the shocks.
Most of the serious damage in Chile will be a long the coastline and the major highway running North-South, although damage in Santiago is reported to be substantial.
Saturday’s quake was 700 to 800 times stronger than the 7.0-magnitude quake that struck Haiti in January, leaving 212,000 people dead and more than a million homeless.
However, it occurred at a greater depth — 21.7 miles — compared to the shallow 8.1-mile depth of the Haiti quake, which contributed to much of the damage there. As such, the basic infrastructure damage (hospitals, fire, police) hopefully is far, far less than the total destruction we saw in Haiti.
With that said, the people of Chile will still need international support, to get food and materials on the ground until the Chilean Government can put things back together. Unlike Haiti, Chile has a strong, stable government, and the most stable economy in South America.