Earthquakes are common in Japan but this 1995 Kobe quake was a standout that spelled the end of the road for a section of asphalt highway, a fleet of trucks, and even a huge crane which collapsed under the force of the temblor. Haitian girls pick up the pieces by retrieving household goods from a Port-au-Prince neighborhood reduced to rubble by the magnitude 7.0 earthquake which struck on January 12, 2010. A Port-au-Prince neighborhood lies ruined and reeling on January 16, 2010, just four days after one of the more devastating quakes in recent memory rocked the island nation of Haiti.Scientists with seismic equipment monitor about half a million earthquakes a year and very few of them are even strong enough to be noticed by people on the surface. The human toll is high in Port-au-Prince Haiti, where the after effects of a massive earthquake will be felt for years to come. Chinese women weep near one of many buildings leveled in Dujiangyan by a May, 2008 earthquake. The terrible toll of the earthquake which struck Sichuan province on May 12, 2008, is evident as parents perform funeral rites for children killed when their school collapsed.

Unlike earthquakes, which are often followed by aftershocks, the storms that birth tornadoes are independent of one another.
Earthquakes are a common occurrence, rumbling below Earth's surface thousands of times every day. Nearly a year later as many as one million Haitians still live in refugee camps.Big quakes can be devastating and deadly but thousands of earthquakes take place around the world every single day. The San Francisco Bay area has a 67 percent chance of experiencing a major earthquake sometime in the next 30 years.
The vast majority of all earthquakes are so weak that no one notices them-except for scientists who monitor sensitive seismic equipment at more than 4,000 scattered stations.
When stresses cause sudden shifts of these plates they move violently from side to side or up and down, sending shock waves through the crust which we experience as earthquakes.

About 10,000 people lose their lives to earthquakes each year, an average weighted by catastrophic events like the Haitian quake. Yet earthquake danger to human is increasing because populations in earthquake-prone areas, like urban California and Japan, continues to rise and put more people at risk. Other quakes can occur far from faults zones when plates are stretched or squeezed.Scientists assign a magnitude rating to earthquakes based on the strength and duration of their seismic waves. Smaller temblors that usually occur in the days following a large earthquake can complicate rescue efforts and cause further death and destruction.Loss of life can be avoided through emergency planning, education, and the construction of buildings that sway rather than break under the stress of an earthquake.

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