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Natural disaster Haiti: branded by an earthquake

A skull on a rod sticking out of rubble and a giant crucifix in the middle of a ruined church: these are two of the images taken by swissinfo.ch’s Thomas Kern during a visit to Haiti a few weeks after the earthquake in 2010, one of the worst natural catastrophes of modern times. 

Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas and one of the most underprivileged in the world, with a GDP of $820 (CHF827) in 2013. The small Caribbean republic has major shortcomings in every basic service (health, education, access to drinking water and so on). 

According to the World Bank, almost 60% of the country’s 10.4 million inhabitants live on less than two dollars a day and more than 24% live on less than one dollar a day, considered extreme poverty. Haiti is also one of the world’s most inegalitarian societies. When it comes to politics, over the past 50 years dictatorships have succeeded military coups. 

The history of the former “Pearl of the Antilles”, which declared independence from France in 1804, has been equally marked by a series of natural catastrophes. 

On January 12, 2010, at 4.53pm local time, an earthquake measuring 7 on the Richter scale with its epicentre just 25 kilometres from the capital Port-au-Prince, killed or injured hundreds of thousands of people. Countless buildings were destroyed, including parliament and the cathedral in Port-au-Prince. 

(Text: Samuel Jaberg / Images: Thomas Kern)

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SWI swissinfo.ch on Instagram

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