The earthquake killed, directly or indirectly, more than 780,000 people during the decade ending in 2010, nearly 60% of mortality from all natural disasters, according to a study Lancet published Friday.
"In addition to these deaths, earthquakes have directly affected two billion additional people during this period," between 2001 and 2010, the study said.
The deadliest of these earthquakes is the one that struck Haiti January 12, 2010, a magnitude of 7.0, which has 316,000 victims. The one that caused a tsunami in the Indian Ocean December 26, 2004, a magnitude of 9.1, resulting in the deaths of 227,000 people.
In third place, there is an earthquake of magnitude 7.9 that struck the Chinese province of Sichuan, May 12, 2008, with a record of 87,500 dead.
Beyond this list macabre, the study published by The Lancet focuses primarily on raising awareness among policy-makers and relief agencies that earthquakes are a priority in terms of public health and prevent diseases that doctors 'they will have to be treated in case of such disasters.
"Earthquakes can lead to a massive number of victims between 1% and 8% of the population at risk", with about one death for three wounded, she insists.
Mortality caused by the earthquake occurs in waves. It deplores the first inhabitants killed instantly by the collapse of buildings, followed hours later by the injured succumbed to their internal injuries.
The third wave of deaths occurs in the days and weeks, the lightest among the wounded victims of complications and infections.
Among the survivors of an earthquake, the main identified pathologies are linked to the crushing of kidney, liver and spleen, followed by injuries of the spine, fractures and lacerations varied.
Children are the most vulnerable group and are between 25% and 53% of patients after an earthquake, notes the study.
Apart from the immediate operations of search and rescue of survivors, relief should mainly deal with the development of diseases in overcrowded shelters. Contrary to popular belief, the presence of corpses in the rubble does not present any particular risk.
In the longer term, earthquakes also have a significant impact on mental health, with an increase in depression among victims.
With the growth of world population and urban expansion in areas at risk, the threat of earthquakes will increase further in coming years, warn the authors of the study, the hospital Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Boston (United States).
Many megacities are located in seismic areas, such as Tokyo (32 million), Mexico (20 million), Los Angeles (15 million) and Istanbul (9 million).