The impact depends on many factors strength of the earthquake, wealth of country ect.
If the earthquake is high on the Richter scale then it has more of an impact. A shallow focus will cause more damage than a deep focus as the shockwaves will be closer to the surface. The passage of these shockwaves through the crust, leads to the ground shaking causing cracks in the ground. Also the nearer to the epicentre an urban area is the greater the damage will be, although in 1985, 100,00 people were killed and 20,000 were injured yet the epicentre of the earthquake was 250km away.
The strength of an earthquake can have very different impacts depending on the countries wealth. The wealthier a country is the more advanced warnings they have and educated they are. The infrastructure and buildings standards are also higher in wealthier countries.
In Maharashbra, India in 1993, 10,00 people died from poorly constructed buildings collapsed whereas in L.A in 1993 only 60 people died when a similar sized earthquake occurred. The only damage was to car parks as they are not earthquake proof.
The response of authorities is another factor influencing the impact of an earthquake. While authorities like San Francisco have sophisticated land use zoning, where danger zones are devoted to tourist land use, such as parks ect. There are other authorities where building codes sometimes don’t even exist.
Human activity can trigger an earthquake. In Mexico City extraction of ground water for industrial use and domestic use caused widespread subsidence therefore tilted buildings were more vulnerable to shockwaves.
There are many management strategies that are put in place to reduce the impact of an earthquake. FEMA (federal emergency management agency) has an earthquake program, which has four basic goals, these are to promote the understanding of the earthquakes and their effects, to work better to identify the risks of earthquakes, improve the earthquake resistance design and construction techniques of buildings and encourage people to use earthquake safe policies and planning practices. They have provided advice for before, during and after an earthquake.
Other management strategies are special earthquake drills, which show people how to respond in an earthquake and extremely demanding construction standards for infrastructure to make sure buildings can withstand earthquakes. Some countries have prediction services. Japan has one, which is headed by the 3 wise men; these are top seismologists and use sophisticated technology and 180 seismic monitoring stations, which are mostly around Tokyo.
The success of such management strategies depends on the scale of the earthquake, the higher on the Richter scale the less effective management strategies seem to be. Earthquake drills and advice given by agencies are often ignored due to panic and shock. This causes more hazards such as little fires that can be put out safely at the time and aren’t become large fires. The demanding constructions standards have only been in place since the 1980’s so buildings and infrastructure constructed before then collapse. In the Great Kanto earthquake in 1923, 700,000 homes and 9000 factories were destroyed.
There were many management strategies in place when the Great Hanshin earthquake occurred but the quake still led to widespread destruction to buildings and infrastructure and many lost lives in the Kobe Oscar area in Japan on 17-1-1995. This just shows that earthquakes can still have a big impact even when management strategies are in place. But could it have been worse if there weren’t any at all?