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Earthquakes dog Hillary Clinton on overseas trips

November 5, 2010

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) - What is it about Hillary Rodham Clinton and earthquakes? Seems the secretary of state rarely takes an overseas trip that is not in some way affected by a temblor.

She may not have felt the earth move under her feet, but as her plane landed Friday in Christchurch, the city was hit by an aftershock from a 7-magnitude quake that struck in September. Two days earlier, as she wrapped up a visit to Papua New Guinea, a 6.0-magnitude quake rattled villages there.

Those seismic events were at least the third and fourth to have hit countries while Clinton was visiting. On her first trip abroad as America's top diplomat in February 2009, Clinton was shaken awake by a minor quake in Japan. Four months later, she felt a 5.0 quake in Honduras. Then, in October 2009, tremors struck Pakistan while Clinton was there.

And those are just the ones she's been present for.

Days before Clinton was to visit Chile in March of this year, an 8.8-magnitude earthquake caused severe damage in the South American country, forcing her to cancel plans to spend a night in Santiago. But she still made a brief stop in Chile to get a look at relief efforts, much as she did in January after Haiti was devastated by a powerful quake.

Of course, the reason Clinton was in Papua New Guinea and New Zealand this week and will travel to Australia on Saturday is the Haiti quake. She was in Hawaii en route to the three countries when Haiti was struck on Jan. 12, causing her to return to Washington to oversee U.S. relief efforts.