(Update of original post) A 7.0 magnitude earthquake rocked Haiti on Tuesday, briefly spawning fears of a tsunami, and likely killing hundreds, if not thousands of people. Given the dense population in Port au Prince, where 2 million people are packed into a space not meant for nearly that many, and the state of Haiti’s infrastructure, damage, and the death toll, are expected to be extensive.
FROM THE AP WIRE (12:25 A.M.) – “Haiti capital largely destroyed in quake … casualties widespread.” The earthquake reportedly flattened whole rows of buildings, particularly in the hills surrounding the capital, Port-au-Prince.
UPDATE (10:30 p.m.) The earthquake that hit Haiti was the strongest to hit the island in 200 years, and predictably, has wreaked what NBC News was calling “total devastation and chaos” late Tuesday. Port Au Prince is without power or cell phone service, and the main hospital in the city collapsed overnight, as did the presidential palace (Rene Preval, Haiti’s president, and his wife were not injured.) It’s pitch black apparently in Haiti, and nothing can really be done until morning. This is shaping up to be a monumental humanitarian catastrophe. Per CNN: “the U.S. State Department has been told to expect “serious loss of life,” department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters in Washington…”
The BBC is reporting “hundreds” or maybe even “thousands” dead based on eye witness reports on the ground. And they add that a “large number” of UN personnel have been reported missing after the U.N. mission’s building apparently collapsed.
MSNBC is reporting that two Americans may be trapped in the rubble of a U.S. aid building somewhere in the capitol. There were at least two aftershocks following the initial 7.0 quake, at 5.5 and 5.9 in magnitude.
The first photos are beginning to come in. More photos here. Pics of the devastated presidential palace here (and here’s the “before.”) Also, coverage from MSNBC, CNN, the Associated Press, Reuters and the BBC. To find out how you can help:
WHERE TO SEND AID:
• UNICEF is seeking donations to the ongoing emergency relief efforts in Haiti and the Caribbean region through www.unicefusa.org/haitiquake or call 1-800-4UNICEF.
• Operation Helping Hands, a joint community project of The Miami Herald and United Way-Miami, will be collecting donations to support the relief effort in Haiti.
To make a contribution, go to www.iwant2help.org
Hands Across Haiti, a charity dedicated to helping those on the island, www.handsacrosshaiti.org
• International Medical Corps
• Direct Relief International
• World Vision
• International Relief Teams
• Yéle Haiti
• American Red Cross
• Operation USA
• Catholic Relief Services
• World Food Programme
• World Concern
• Save the Children
• UNICEF USA
• More ways to help victims of NATURAL DISASTERS
Checking on relatives in Haiti:
• Mercy Corps established a Haiti Earthquake Fund, PO Box 2669,Portland, OR 97208, www.mercycorps.org, 1-888-256-1900
• The Archdiocese of Miami is accepting financial donations to assist with recovery efforts for the earthquake victims in Haiti. People may send their donations to Catholic Charities, 1505 NE 26th St. Wilton Manors, FL 33305, Attention Earthquake Victims.
• The Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) — the natural disaster relief arm of the OAS — was asking people who want to donate to visit its special relief website called www.PanAmericanRelief.org.
Also, U.S. citizens wondering about family in Haiti can ring the U.S. State Department’s American Citizen Services line at 1-888-407-4747.
More links here.