Haitian seismologist Claude Prepetit, who predicted last month's earthquake, is warning that an even stronger one could hit Port-au-Prince within 20 years. Given this threat, should Haiti and the international community rebuild the country's devastated capital, home to more than 2 million people, on the same spot — or move it to a new, safer location? (Watch a CBS report about relief efforts in Port-au-Prince)
The capital must be moved: It might make sense to rebuild the capital on the spot if Haiti could expect 200 years of calm before the next disaster, says geologist Tim Dixon, as quoted in Time. But "our findings suggest another shoe has to drop," soon, and closer to Port-au-Prince. The responsible thing to do is move the capital to the north, out of harm's way.
"Scientists: Why Haiti should move its capital"
Haiti has no choice in the short term: Even if the Haitian government decides against moving the capital permanently, say Jim Arkedis and Mike Derham in Progressive Fix, it has no choice but to move its nerve center for now. "Port-au-Prince has been reduced to a rubble heap," and during demolition and rebuilding the government and the United Nations peacekeeping mission should move to Haiti's second city, Cap-Haitien, on the north coast.
"Haiti after the quake: Nation-building next door"
It makes sense, but might not work: Thousands of evacuees already have already been moved out of Port-au-Prince, say Andres Viglucci and Scott Hiaasen in The Miami Herald. But experts warn that mass-relocations following catastrophes elsewhere have often failed — refugees tend to return even to devastated cities, still hoping to find "jobs and economic opportunity."
"Epic task of rebuilding Port-au-Prince is beset by hard strategic questions"