"Japan is the most hard-constructed place for earthquakes on the planet; Haiti is the least well-constructed place for earthquakes on the planet," Mileti said.
Japan has an early warning system based on the type of waves generated by faults. That alerted residents about 15 seconds before they felt shaking. Sensors note the earliest arriving, fast-moving primary, or compression, waves, and for the past three years that causes alerts to be broadcast on Japanese television. It allows residents to get under doorframes and shut off gas in cooking stoves.
Image: A derailed train lies near a home in Matsushima, Miyagi prefecture, northern Japan on March 12, 2011, after being washed away by an earthquake-triggered tsunami.