The 7.0-magnitude earthquake that devastated Haiti may have caused as much as $13.2 billion in damages, four times initial Haitian government estimates, according to an Inter-American Development Bank study released Tuesday.
The study was written by three economists, using data from 2,000 natural disasters over the past 40 years. They said the quake was "even more damaging" than the 2004 tsunami that struck parts of Asia, MiamiHerald reports.
According to Press TV, economists report that the quake damage is of extraordinary dimension for a country the size of Haiti.
"This is a disaster really of quite exceptional proportions for a country like Haiti. In relation to Haiti's size, its population, or its economic income, it's really a terrible tragedy," said IADB economist Andrew Powell. The IADB warned about the challenging and time-consuming recovery efforts for decades to come.
"We may well be talking of anything up to 13 or 14 billion dollars of damages, and of course, reconstruction needs is somewhat different to damages," said Powell.
Some Haitians have already expressed doubt about their government's ability to cope despite President Rene Preval's pledge of a transparent, common fund for the rebuilding projects.
The authors note that Haiti's economy is likely to be stunted by the earthquake for many years, citing an earlier study that shows that "even 10 years after a major disaster, the affected country growth may be some 30 percent below what growth would have been."
In terms of rebuilding Haiti's homes, schools, roads and other infrastructure, the study released Tuesday said, the cost is expected to be many times lower than that caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, a result of the far higher costs of property in the United States.
Katrina's price tag was put at more than $100 billion, The New York Times reports.