What is more important in reducing the impact of Earthquakes, Prediction or Mitigation?

Natural Hazards can present serious threats to lives and livelihoods. This essay will focus upon earthquakes and discuss how prediction and mitigation both can help reduce the impacts of an earthquake but ultimately mitigation is more important due to the unreliable nature of prediction.
Predicting natural hazards can seriously decrease their impact upon societies as it allows time for authorities to order evacuations and emergency measures. However earthquakes are difficult to predict, with the only example of a successful evacuation occurring in Haicheng, China in 1975. Seismologists use seismic gap theory to predict when tension has built up at tectonic plate boundaries, but often estimates have a broad time scale. For example, in 2008 it was predicted that a large earthquake would hit Port au Prince, Haiti in the next 100 years. Due to the vague nature of these predictions, little was done, and when a magnitude 7 earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, 230,000 died. Therefore, while a successful prediction has the ability to save thousands of lives, the unreliable and vague nature of predictions makes them difficult to act upon.
Mitigating against earthquakes is more important in reducing their impacts than prediction. This is because earthquakes do not directly kill anyone, but instead buildings and roads collapsing due to the ground shaking create a risk to life. An example of successful mitigation against an earthquake is the 2011 Christchurch, New Zealand earthquake. Despite an 6.2 magnitude earthquake occurring only 10 km southeast of Christchurch’s town centre at an undiscovered and unpredicted fault line, only 185 people died. This is because New Zealand’s stringent building regulations that aim to make buildings earthquake proof, stopped buildings collapsing in the earthquake. Indeed of the 185 who died, 115 were inside a building that did not meet regulations during the earthquake. This example shows how mitigating against the impacts of an earthquake can successfully preserve human life.
In conclusion, mitigation is more important than prediction in mitigating against the impacts of an earthquake. This is because predictions are currently unreliable and vague and most fatalities in an earthquake are caused by collapsing buildings, which can be avoided with building regulations. However, in the future as the science of predicting earthquakes becomes more precise, it could become more important than mitigation as it would allow for evacuations of affected areas.