The NY Times points to unenforced building codes and low quality cement as leading causes of the damage caused by the Haitian earthquake. The 2nd point is interesting. Cement is costly in Haiti. To economize on it, construction waters this stuff down.
"Concrete is very expensive — much of the cement for it comes from the United States, Mr. Dooley said — so some contractors cut corners by adding more sand to the mix. The result is a structurally weaker material that deteriorates rapidly, he said. Steel reinforcing bar is also expensive, he said, so there is a tendency to use less of it with the concrete."
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