The use of earthquake closets in developing countries when large earthquakes strike
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Given that more than 90% of earthquake fatalities occur in rural environments, one has to rethink how to protect the population. With most rural buildings being one- and two-story dwellings, the earthquake closet (EC) offers an affordable solution as a protection unit. Two recent earthquakes with nearly 100,000 fatalities each are used for estimating the lives that could be saved and how much this would cost. The cost of constructing an EC in a single-family home is taken to be $500–$600 in developing countries. For the “statistical value of life” $1 million is used, a minimum amount given in the literature. The cost of hospitalization is derived from reports after an earthquake. The number of fatalities and injured avoided is estimated for an example earthquake each in China and Pakistan. The estimated dollar savings resulting in large earthquakes reach $18.3 billion at a cost of $1.3 billion, and $10 billion at a cost of $0.5 billion, respectively, in the two examples.
KeywordsEarthquake losses Earthquake protection Rural population
I thank J. W. Li for supplying references for costs for earthquake victims in China and Luis Triveno for references on earthquake protection costs. I also thank R. Console, R. Bishop, and S. Gupta for comments on the manuscript.
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