Haiti’s earthquake caused up to $14 billion in damages, or 117% of Haiti’s annual economic output, according to a new study from the Inter-American Development Bank. That makes it the most costly natural disaster since World War II, relative to the size and economy of the affected country. The figure is a preliminary one—an official estimate hits in a few weeks—but a veteran of the Hurricane Mitch rebuilding effort says it's probably “relatively conservative.”
Rebuilding after Hurricane Mitch cost $6.3 billion, and that disaster killed only about 10,000 people. The Haiti quake killed roughly 250,000, a staggering per-capita loss of 25,000 out of every million Haitians; for comparison, 772 of every million Indonesians died in the 2004 tsunami. “This disaster, given the size of Haiti ... is the most devastating catastrophe that a country has experienced possibly ever,” said one of the study’s authors.