Wednesday, January 13, 2010
A powerful 7.0 earthquake struck the small, impoverished island nation of Haiti on Tuesday, causing massive destruction to the capital city of Port-au-Prince, killing thousands and leaving the country without adequate hospitals to care for injured.
In what was described as the worst earthquake to hit Haiti in 200 years, Port-au-Prince — a sprawling city of 2 million, reports emerged of extensive destruction, homes and buildings reduced to ruin, trapping residents under debris, seriously injuring victims, and forcing thousands to sleep on the streets.
Tsunami alerts were issued for Cuba, the Bahamas and much of the Caribbean, and numerous aftershocks were reported. The tsunami alerts have since been lifted.
The quake measured a magnitude of 7.0 and was centered about 10 miles west of Port-au-Prince. It struck about 4:53 p.m., hitting one of the city’s most densely populated residential areas.
Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere with a population of about 9 million. It shares a border with the Dominican Republic on the island of Hispaniola.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton described the disaster as catastrophic.
President Barack Obama said Tuesday that his “thoughts and prayers” were with the people of Haiti. “We are closely monitoring the situation and we stand ready to assist the people of Haiti,” Obama said in a statement. The Obama administration said that the State Department, USAID and the U.S. military were working to coordinate an assessment of the situation and any possible assistance.
How to help. The American Red Cross is accepting donations to provide food, water, temporary shelter, medical services and emotional support. OperationUSA is appealing for donations from the public and corporations to pay for bulk health care materials, water purification supplies and food supplements.