Horrific Destruction as Earthquake Rocks Haiti

Parts of the Presidential Palace in Haiti has collapsed. Photo by Rueters

January 12, 2010

The poorest nation is the Western hemisphere has been hit by a 7.0 earthquake, the worst in 2 centuries, with as many as 2 dozen after shocks being reported. It struck before 5:00 pm EST causing extensive damage and panic. The earthquake was centered southwest of the capitol of Port-au-Prince. Many poorly-made buildings crumbled leaving a huge visible cloud of dust from the crumbling buildings over the city.

Night fell shortly after the quake hit and rescued efforts are hampered by darkness and lack of equipment.

The United Nations peacekeeper compound has collapsed and a large number of personnel remain missing. There are about 9,000 UN peacekeepers in Haiti from many countries.

The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs reports difficulty in determining the fate of the Filipinos in the country. From the AFP:
The Philippines said Wednesday it was concerned over the safety of its 179 peacekeepers in Haiti who could not be contacted after a massvie quake destroyed the UN headquarters there.
"The Philippine mission to the UN in New York is trying to establish contact with the Philippine contingent in the UN Stabilisation Mission in Haiti," foreign department spokesman Ed Malaya told AFP.
"The Philippines has not yet been able to establish contact with Lieutenant-Colonel Lope Dagoy, their commanding officer," he said, adding that neither had the UN.
A total of 157 soldiers and 22 policemen are serving with the UN force in Haiti, Malaya said.
Many dead and injured people are in the streets and a hospital has collapsed according to reports from witnesses.

Haiti has a population of 9.3 million with an estimated 80 percent living in extreme poverty.

From the BBC:
Raymond Joseph, Haiti's ambassador to the US, told CNN: "I think it is really a catastrophe of major proportions."
He said he had just spoken to a government colleague in Port-au-Prince:
"He had to stop his car just about half an hour ago, and take to the streets, start walking, but he said houses were crumbling on the right side of the street and the left side of the street.
"He does not know whether he would reach his home, not knowing what he would find, because he had a bridge to cross to get there."
Mike Blanpied of the US Geological Survey said that, based on the location and size of the quake, about three million people will have been severely shaken by its impact.
"This quake occurred under land as opposed to off-shore, so a lot of people were directly exposed to the shaking coming off that earthquake fault, which was quite shallow," he told the BBC.
He added that as the quake had occurred near a highly populated urban area, the aftershocks could cause additional damage to already shaken buildings.
US President Barack Obama said in a statement that his "thoughts and prayers" were with the people of Haiti and America stood ready to assist them.


The Wall Street Journal reported:
"Clearly, there's going to be serious loss of life in this," U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Philip J. Crowley told reporters.

At least 1.8 million people live within the area where the magnitude-7 quake was most intense, John Bellini, a geophysicist at the USGS, told The Wall Street Journal. "With a strong and shallow earthquake like this in such a populated area, it could really cause substantial damage," he said.

Nightfall and the chaos after the quake made it too early to estimate the extent of the casualties. Disaster specialists said various mathematical models for an earthquake of such magnitude in Haiti predict that as many as 4,000 people could have been killed.
Hundreds of thousands of Haitians are living in Florida and are desperately trying to connect to family members. The Miami Herald reports that teams of people in the Miami area have mobilized and are preparing to leave to Haiti to provide assistance. The Orlando Sentinel reports:
Communication was nearly impossible via land line or cell phone between Central Florida's 30,000 Haitian-Americans and their families.

Laurent Prosper of the Consulate of Haiti in Orlando said Tuesday's earthquake was massive even in a country prone to earthquakes. As of 9 p.m., there was no information from the hardest-hit neighborhoods, he said. Those who could be reached said they were worried about aftershocks.

"There's chaos in the street," Prosper said. "People are not really sure what's going on. People are figuring out where to spend the night."

Cyprien said she hoped the tragedy would focus world attention on Haiti so more prosperous nations and people would help.

"Haiti needs all the prayers," she said.
UNICEF has put out an appeal for aid:
Funds are urgently needed to provide safe water, temporary shelter systems, essential medical supplies etc. UNICEF's country office in Haiti and the regional office located in Panama has deployed emergency teams to assess the situation and determine what the additional emergency needs are for the people of Haiti.
You can donate to UNICEF's effort at http://www.unicefusa.org/haitiquake or call 1-800-4UNICEF
CNN has continuing coverage and photos.


The Saipan Blogger said...

I think it strange that you would be concerned with the fate of Filipinos living in Haiti. Why single them out? What about the Haitians? Anyone else?

Wendy said...

Angelo -There is nothing "strange" about being concerned with Filipinos. The entire post is concerned with the Haitians and all earthquake victims. The UN Peacekeepers include people of many nationalities. There is also implied concern for everyone affected by the earthquake and an appeal for donations at the end. I mentioned the Filipinos because this site has a large FIlipino audience, because my family is Filipino and because there were no less than 4 news articles written about the fate of the Filipinos there. Mentioning the Filipinos does not in any way reduce my concern for every single person there!

Saipan Writer said...

The number of reported deaths is staggering and very sad. Time to donate whatever is possible.