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Two faces of the same drama - Carlos Barria on covering the Haiti earthquake and the crisis in Japan

(Left) A fisherman reacts as he looks at his boat, which was destroyed by March 11's magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami, in Yamada town, Iwate prefecture on March 27. (Right) A woman cries as she walks along a street in downtown Port-au-Prince, Haiti January 27, 2010.

Carlos Barria is a Reuters staff photographer based in Shanghai, China. He has covered breaking news, sports and features in the Americas, the Middle East, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Barria's recent work in Japan following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami caused him to reflect on the similarities of the disaster in Haiti in 2010.

Barria writes:

"A year ago, I was part of the Reuters team that covered Haiti’s massive earthquake, which claimed some 250,000 lives, and left a million people living in makeshift camps. This year, I was part of the team that covered another natural disaster– the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan’s northern coast and brought on a nuclear crisis.

The two events were very different. They occurred on opposite sides of the globe, in completely different countries, in different cultural contexts. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, with a turbulent political history. On the other hand, Japan is one of the richest and most modern countries in the world– the third largest economy and, actually, one of the first to send help to Haiti.

But in covering these two catastrophes, I was struck by a few similarities.

Walking through the rubble of Kessenuma, in Japan, looking for a way to convey the scale of the destruction, I found myself almost in a situation like one year ago in Haiti."

Carlos Barria / Reuters

(Left) A refugee sleeps at a relief center in Minamisanriku town, Miyagi prefecture, March 22.
(Right) A woman sits at her tent at a makeshift camp in Port-au-Prince, Haiti January 26, 2010.

Carlos Barria / Reuters

(Left) A woman reacts while using a mobile phone as she looks at her house destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami in Kessenuma town, in Miyagi prefecture on March 28.
(Right) A man wipes sweat from his forehead as he walks along a destroyed street after the earthquake in Port-au-Prince, January 15, 2010.

"There was a woman alone, who paused and stood still, looking at the remains of her house. I had a flash back to a man I had photographed walking alone in the devastated Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince."

Carlos Barria / Reuters

(Top) A woman waits in line during a food distribution effort at an area destroyed by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Ishinomaki, northern Japan on April 3.(Bottom) A woman raises her arms for products from a destroyed shop after the earthquake in Port-au-Prince, January 16, 2010.

 "No matter what the differences are between countries and cultures, at the end of the day I felt I was watching people suffer in the same way."

Carlos Barria / Reuters

(Left) Family members of victims of the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami cry next to coffins of their relatives during a mass funeral in Kassenuma town, Miyagi prefecture on March 26. Ten flimsy wood coffins were laid on two sturdy rails at a hastily prepared cemetery of mostly mud as Keseunnuma began burying its dead from the tsunami that ripped apart the Japanese coastal city. (Right) A woman cries during a memorial ceremony at a mass grave in Titanyn, outside of Port au Prince, February 1, 2010.

For more images from the ongoing crisis in Japan click here.

Too see more posts about the behind-the-scenes experiences of Reuters photographers click here.