Thursday, January 14, 2010

Whither the Hinterland?

Yesterday I mentioned an interesting post by Dave Petley at Dave's Landslide Blog. Here is a passage from that post that is making me more and more uneasy:
3. No news is very, very bad news. The biggest impacts are often in rural areas with the highest levels of shaking. These areas had poor communications to start with, but when an earthquake strikes the roads become blocked, power is lost and there is no telephone service. Therefore, no news comes out for some time after the quake. The picture is actually the opposite of the obvious. If news starts to emerge quickly from those areas with the highest shaking then the picture is not as bad as we feared - at least some communications are open - although it may still be quite grim. If there is almost no news at all from the rural areas for a day or two, then the picture is probably very bad indeed, with almost all of the communications wiped out.
The reason it seems pertinent right now is that I just got through looking at today's Big Picture photo gallery of the aftermath in Haiti.

Every single one of the photos (with the exception of #2) is from Port-au-Prince.

In other words, this thing is probably even worse than we know. And what we already know is mind-numbing.

Followup, 1:47 PST: From the NYT,
“I think it’s going to be worse than anyone still understands,” said Richard Dupin, the vice president of Haiti Shipping Lines, based in Miami.
The airport is semi-functional, but there's little fuel to re-fill planes. The seaport is a shambles, so bulk shipments can't come in by sea. A bus with material and aid workers was able to travel from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic to Port-au-Prince, but it took six hours.

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